Infections caused by a strain of Clostridium difficile responsible for recent epidemics might be treatable using a mix of gut bacteria.
A team led by Trevor Lawley of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute near Cambridge, UK, infected mice with the C. difficile strain and then treated them with an antibiotic commonly used in humans. Instead of killing the pathogen, the antibiotic displaced other gut bacteria and permitted a persistent C. difficile infection.
Treating the infected mice with faeces from healthy animals restored their intestinal flora and resolved their infections. A mixture of six different bacterial species isolated from the faeces had the same effect, promising a treatment more palatable to patients than faecal transplantation.