A new enzyme was recently identified that may prevent intestinal infection caused by the highly resistant bacteria Clostridium difficile. The enzyme, called ribaxamase, is the first of its kind that is known to break down antibiotics that are known to disrupt the healthy balance of bacteria in the intestines. A clinical study in hospitalized patients who were receiving antibiotic treatment revealed that ribaxamase significantly decreased the rate of infection compared to a placebo pill. This enzyme is still under-going research studies and is not yet available for use.
Clostridium difficile contaminates surfaces and equipment in the hospital and is transferred to people through hand-to-mouth contact. The infection usually occurs after a person has been on an antibiotic that destroys both the harmful and helpful bacteria living in the body. Clostridium difficile has the ability to overgrow in this environment and may cause diarrhea and significant stomach pain.