C. Difficile is a highly contagious infection people can catch in hospitals or after taking antibiotics. It sickens many and kills about 14,000 people every year. But there’s hope for preventing these infections as a new vaccine moves into the clinical trial phase. The Miriam Hospital is participating in the trial.
The Miriam is looking for volunteers aged 50 and older who’ve either been in the hospital recently or are planning a hospital visit soon to join the study. Volunteers would be randomly placed in a study group or a control group and those in the study group would receive three injections of the experimental C. Difficile vaccine over the course of a month. The control group would receive a placebo, but volunteers have a two-to-one shot at getting the real vaccine. The goal: to prevent diarrhea-causing C.diff infections in those most at risk. Miriam attending physician and infectious disease specialist Dr. Karen Tashima says C.diff has been the scourge of hospitals, where it can spread quite easily.
“It can be quite severe and difficult to get rid of," said Tashima. "So if we could prevent the infection, that would be much more optimal.”
The study is being sponsored by vaccine-maker Sanofi Pasteur and will involve about 15,000 subjects worldwide. It’s the largest human trial to-date of the first-ever C.diff vaccine.