A carbohydrate from the surface of the most virulent strain of the bacterium Clostridium difficile has been synthesised by chemists in Germany. The molecule could be used to develop a vaccine against the infection.
C. difficile infections are the most common cause of hospital acquired diarrhoea and can lead to the death of elderly patients and those with weakened immune systems.’C. difficile is on the rise in industrialised countries,’ says Peter Seeberger, who led the team that carried out the research at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Potsdam. ‘There is a need for a vaccine but it’s a big challenge.’