European project to develop vaccine for
8 November 2013
A three-year project involving four European countries aims to
develop an oral vaccine against the common hospital infection
Led by Royal Holloway University of London, the CDVAX project consortium has
taken the novel approach of producing a vaccine that can be taken
orally, under the tongue, rather than via injection. It will use
genetically engineered harmless bacterial spores to boost immunity by
targeting the protein needed for the infection to take hold.
C difficile kills around 4,000 people a year —
almost four-times as many as MRSA — and currently has no effective
treatments. While normally harmless in healthy people, the C
difficile bacteria can prove fatal when the natural bacteria of
the gut are disrupted from antibiotic use. It is common among the
elderly and infection rates are estimated to be as high as 50% in
those whose hospital stays exceed four weeks.
“We believe that our approach to develop this vaccine will
provide significantly greater protection against infection and
relapse, than would have been achieved via injections. This method
is also likely to inform the treatment of many other diseases,” said
Professor Simon Cutting from the School of Biological Sciences at
“C. difficile poses a major public health threat and
there is an urgent need for protective vaccines. I am delighted to
be coordinating this programme with such a strong team of academic
and industrial experts”.
The project is funded by an EU grant of approximately €6m, with
the first clinical trials expected to start in the next 18 months.
See the CDVAX project website: