New Approach Against a Killer Bacterium

New Approach Against a Killer Bacterium

Better treatments are needed for the human gut bacterium Clostridioides difficile (usually referred to as C. diff), which has developed resistance to many antibiotics. C. diff releases toxins that causes severe diarrhea and colitis, leading to about 15,000 deaths each year in the United States, mainly among hospitalized patients. Vern L. Schramm, Ph.D., is developing drugs that combat C. diff infections by neutralizing the bug’s disease-causing toxins.

Dr. Schramm has received a five-year, $3.3 million NIH grant to continue his efforts to develop drugs known as transition-state analogues to combat C. diff infections. By eliminating the toxins but not the bacteria producing them, such drugs should prevent toxin-induced tissue damage without pressuring C. diff to develop resistance, as all too often occurs with standard antibiotics. In addition, the toxin-targeting drugs should not disrupt other microbes in patients’ gut microbiomes.  

Dr. Schramm is professor and Ruth Merns Chair in Biochemistry. (1R01AI150971-01A1)

Albert Einstein College of Medicine has intellectual property related to this research and is seeking licensing partners able to further develop and commercialize this technology. Interested parties can contact the Office of Biotechnology and Business Development at

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