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This antioxidant beats antibiotics in treating digestive infections

A stubborn bacterial infection often acquired in hospitals and which can be deadly, may have a new treatment on the horizon, American researchers say in a study published in the journal Science Translation Medicine.
Antibiotics only work about 25 percent of the time in wiping out Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, a pathogen that infects the digestive tract and kills about 15,000 people and hospitalizes 250,000 each year in the US.
But the antioxidant drug Ebselen was shown to kill C. diff by targeting its toxins, and not by killing the bacteria and wiping out beneficial gut microbes at the same time, say researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine, California.
The study was done on mice, but researchers say human trials could be expedited because the drug is already being investigated for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, stroke, atherosclerosis and cancer.
“Unlike antibiotics – which are both the frontline treatment for C. difficile infection, and paradoxically, possibly its chief cause – the drug didn’t kill the bacteria,” says senior author Matthew Bogyo, professor of pathology and of microbiology and immunology.
Rather, it disabled a toxin produced by the pathogen, and prevented intestinal damage and inflammation.
C. diff costs the US more than US$4 billion (RM17.8 billion) in healthcare expenses, and it often recurs in patients, requiring further hospitalization, researchers say.
The infection is particularly perilous for those with weakened immune systems.

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