JUN 08, 2022 12:35 PM PDT

Researchers Search for a Treatment for a Lethal Clostridium Bacteria

WRITTEN BY: Zoe Michaud

Clostridium bacteria are a normal component of the gut microbiome. In rare cases, dysbiosis of Clostridium in the body can cause serious infections including tetanus and gas gangrene. Tetanus, an infection caused by a type of Clostridium called Clostridium tetani, is estimated to cause over 200,000 deaths worldwide each year. Tetanus, often referred to as “lockjaw” produces a toxin that causes painful muscle contractions and leads to difficulty swallowing and opening the mouth. 

Gas gangrene is caused by another Clostridium species called Clostridium perfringens. This bacterial infection produces toxins that release gas and eventually lead to tissue death. Though these bacterial infections are rare, research is needed to understand how these infections work on a molecular level and to improve available treatments. 

Researchers at The Australian National University are studying a type of Clostridium bacteria called Clostridium septicum to elucidate the mechanisms by which this bacteria impacts the immune system. The researchers found that cells are able to recognize a compound called α-toxin when the cell’s cytoplasm is infected with Clostridium septicum. Therapies could be developed to block the pathway involved with Clostridium septicum infection to prevent severe complications of this type of bacterial infection, including sepsis and death. 

Clostridium septicum infections number at less than a thousand per year in the United States. Since Clostridium septicum infections are so rare, little research has previously been done on these bacteria. Professor Si Ming Man, one of the researchers involved in the study, described the bacteria as “incredibly lethal”. Four out of five people who develop an infection of this bacteria die within two days.  

“Our research shows there might be new therapies we could develop, such as using certain drugs to neutralize the toxin,” Professor Man said. "We’ve also shown there are drugs in the clinical trial stage right now that could block the single immune receptor, blocking your own immune system from responding to this toxin too violently. Together this could be a life-saving therapy.” 

Sources: European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, Science Immunology

About the Author
Biology
Zoe (she/her) is a science writer and a scientist working in genomics. She received her B.S. from the University of Connecticut with a focus in Evolutionary Biology. At Labroots, she focuses on writing scientific content related to clinical research and diagnostics.
You May Also Like
JUN 21, 2022
Clinical & Molecular DX
Childhood Bronchitis Linked to Pneumonia and Lung Issues in Adulthood
JUN 21, 2022
Childhood Bronchitis Linked to Pneumonia and Lung Issues in Adulthood
Over 50 years ago, researchers began gathering data for the Tasmanian Longitudinal Health Study (TAHS). The TAHS, which ...
JUL 01, 2022
Clinical & Molecular DX
Could Temperature Fight Obesity? Study in Mice Suggests Cold Exposure Could
JUL 01, 2022
Could Temperature Fight Obesity? Study in Mice Suggests Cold Exposure Could
Mammals, including humans, have at least two different types of fat tissue. White fat is the tissue where energy is prim ...
JUL 09, 2022
Health & Medicine
The Link Between Retinal Signals & Neurodevelopmental Disorders
JUL 09, 2022
The Link Between Retinal Signals & Neurodevelopmental Disorders
Human eyes, like a fingerprint, are unique. They can say so much without saying a word. They can communicate our needs, ...
JUL 26, 2022
Cardiology
Only 20% of Americans Have Optimal Heart Health
JUL 26, 2022
Only 20% of Americans Have Optimal Heart Health
According to the AHA's updated metrics, only 1 in 5 Americans has "high" cardiovascular health.
AUG 03, 2022
Neuroscience
Children Use Creativity in Response to Novel Tasks
AUG 03, 2022
Children Use Creativity in Response to Novel Tasks
A study by a research group at the Max Planck Institute examined how children employ creativity when faced with novel ta ...
AUG 07, 2022
Health & Medicine
Antibiotic Resistance Genes of Mothers and Neonates in Low and Middle Income Countries
AUG 07, 2022
Antibiotic Resistance Genes of Mothers and Neonates in Low and Middle Income Countries
A team of international researchers examined the presence of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in the gut microbiota of ...
Loading Comments...