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Sheep could hold key to treatment against C diff

3rd December 2013

Sheep will be used to help combat superbug says biotech company.

SheepC difficile (C diff), a superbug found in the gut of 5% of humans can be harmful if taking antibiotics.

Last year 1,646 people in England and Wales contracted the digestive tract infection and 10% died.

Biotech company MicroPharm Ltd with help from an £800,000 grant from the UK’s innovation agency, may have found a solution.

They have found that most sheep have the superbug but do not display symptoms. Therefore the company is now looking to extract antibodies from the animal to fight infections in humans.

Dr Geoff Shellswell, the company’s chief operating officer says, antibiotics "will knock out most other bacteria - including those which help protect against C diff - but because C diff has developed drug-resistant strains, it is left behind and can run rampant with no competition".

The process will include isolating the antibodies from the sheep’s blood and then removing the unwanted parts and concentrating them in sufficient quantities to fight C diff in a human.

If successful clinical trials could start in humans in three years and the product could be on sale in ten.

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