Longevity briefs provides a short summary of novel research in biology, medicine, or biotechnology that caught the attention of our researchers in Oxford, due to its potential to improve our health, wellbeing, and longevity.
Why is this research important: Clostridium difficile, also known as C. difficile, is a bacterium that infects the bowel, usually in those who have recently taken antibiotics. Most C. difficile infections occur in hospitals, and serious infections can quickly become fatal if not addressed rapidly. Most likely due to age-related changes in the immune system, over 90% of deaths from C. difficile in the US occur in those over 65 years of age. Older people are also more likely to suffer from recurrent infections following the initial bout. One approach that could be used to help reduce the risk of recurrence is the delivery of other bacteria to the gut that will inhibit the growth of C. difficile.
What did the researchers do: Vedanta Biosciences conducted a phase II clinical trial of their C. difficile treatment, called VE303. The drug is a combination of 8 different strains of bacteria that are grown from cell banks. The bacterial species were chosen for their ability to provide colonisation resistance against C. difficile – that is to say, to colonise the niche that C. difficile would otherwise occupy, giving it no room to grow. The study was a randomised, double-blind placebo-controlled trial including 79 participants at risk of C. difficile recurrence.
Key takeaway(s) from this research: People who received the higher dose of VE303 experienced 5 times fewer recurrences of C. difficile compared to those who received placebo. While there are other microbial therapeutics in development for preventing C. difficile recurrence, these results make VE303 the best in its class, assuming they hold true in the phase III trials due to begin in 2022. VE303 is also the only microbiome therapeutic against C. difficile that isn’t made from processed donated stool, which might make manufacturing and availability less of an issue. On the other hand, VE303’s competitors are further down the development pipeline and closer to receiving FDA approval in the US, so it’s not clear if VE303’s apparent advantages will be enough to make it successful.
Vedanta touts positive new data for its C. diff microbiome therapeutic — but is it too late?: https://www.statnews.com/2021/10/05/vedanta-touts-positive-new-data-for-its-c-diffi-microbiome-therapeutic-but-is-it-too-late/