Good gut gone bad: The C. diff Invasion
Trillions of bacteria, viruses and other tiny organisms — called "microbes" — live inside our bodies and make up a community known as the microbiome. The diversity of microbes is like a rainforest in our gut, helping us digest food and keep diseases at bay. Like bulldozing a rainforest, taking antibiotics can sometimes destroy that microbial landscape and allow dangerous bacteria like Clostridium difficile to take over.
Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, can lead to a life-threatening form of diarrhea. And that is not all; patients often become isolated because of their symptoms, with families taking on huge emotional and financial burdens trying to care for their loved ones. While treatment with more antibiotics may clear C. diff infections in many patients, others find themselves stuck in recurring cycles of antibiotics, illness and more antibiotics. About half a million C. diff infections occur in the U.S. each year, killing more than 20,000 patients annually. The illness has even been labeled an “urgent health threat” by the Centers for Disease Control.
If you are suffering from C. diff, you are not alone.
There is good news. Scientists are developing a whole new category of non-antibiotic drugs that are designed to stop the disease cycle and prevent recurrence. One such drug under investigation in clinical trials, called RBX2660 (formulated by Rebiotix Inc.), aims to restore the beneficial microbes in the gut to a healthier state to potentially stop reinfection. RBX2660 is designed to be administered to patients in one easy treatment, replacing the microbial “rainforest” lost to antibiotic treatment. Clinical trials like those using RBX2660 will be key to understanding this new type of therapy and potentially providing patients and doctors with more options to combat C. diff.
“Clinical trials can be a tool for you to find more C. diff treatment choices,” says Nancy Caralla, founder of The C. Diff Foundation. Caralla, a nurse who is a survivor of the disease, was inspired by her near-death experience to start the foundation to support C. diff patients around the world. The group works to educate patients about seeking clinical trials to treat or prevent their infections. “Become an advocate for your own healthcare,” advises Caralla. “Start by asking your physician about clinical trials in progress. Help (your doctor) help you to help others. You aren’t out of options.”
If you’re an adult being treated for C. diff infection or know someone who might be suffering from the disease, consider participating in the clinical trial (https://rebiotix.com/punchcd3/clinical-trial-page/) at sites throughout the U.S. and Canada to help further the development of the RBX2660 drug. If you are confirmed to be a candidate and decide to participate, the cost of your study drug and study-related tests are paid for by the study sponsor. You may also be eligible for compensation when completing required study visits and phone calls.