Clostridium difficile, commonly referred to as C. diff, is a bacterium that makes more than half a million people sick each year. In November of 2014, the Food and Drug Administration approved the next stage of drug development for a product called SYN-004, a treatment “designed to be the first and only prophylactic therapy for [C. diff infections.] SYN-004 is intended to block harmful gastrointestinal effects of antibiotics and balance the gut microbiome by binding with and neutralizing certain IV beta-lactam antibiotics,” according to Helio.com.
In layman’s terms, the new drug will enter clinical trials to determine its effectiveness in patients who are taking antibiotics and have developed a C. diff infection. Patients on antibiotics are at an increased risk of developing c. diff, and this new drug hopes to prevent the infection from developing. The first phase of trials is expected to start before the end of the year.
The dangers of a C. diff infection
Antibiotics destroy more than just the germs and infections that make us sick; they can also reduce or eliminate the good germs in our bodies. People who are taking antibiotics for another condition are at an increased risk of developing a C. diff infection, as are the elderly. The symptoms may include:
- Watery diarrhea that last for more than two days
- Abdominal cramping
- Blood in the stool
- Increased white blood cell count
Hospital patients are also at any increased risk of C. diff infections as well; it is easily transferable by touching contaminated objects and surfaces, and if left untreated it can have serious consequences. Patients can become dehydrated, and in some cases may suffer from kidney failure or a ruptured colon. Without a proper diagnosis, the infection can be fatal. Because an increased white blood cell count is indicative of both an infection and of certain forms of leukemia, it is imperative that patients seek diagnosis and treatment for their infections quickly, so that doctors may rule out any other potential illnesses.
Should this new drug pass its clinical trials and prove effective in the prevention of C. diff infections, many lives may be saved. For more information about C. diff infections, please contact Plaxen & Adler, P.A.