USF Health microbiologist shares team’s progress on vaccine for C. diff infection

Xingmin Sun, PhD

A team led by Xingmin Sun, PhD, assistant professor in the USF Health Department of Molecular Medicine, is working on vaccine options for Clostridium difficile infection, or CDI, a significant public health threat worldwide. Dr. Sun, a National Institutes of Health career development awardee,  is currently funded through a newly awarded $2 million NIH R01 grant and a NIH R21 grant to develop effective vaccines against CDI.

This bacterial infection can overwhelm a person’s intestine causing fever, vomiting, diarrhea, severe abdominal pain, and, in severe cases, life-threatening inflammation. The bug can be difficult to eradicate with antibiotics; in fact, most cases of CDI, occur after a course of antibiotics therapy, which wipes out the protective microbes normally populating the gut, allowing toxic spores to thrive.  The infection most commonly is acquired from health care facilities and providers; people over age 65 with compromised immune systems, and patients who have suffered one episode of CDI are at highest risk.

Dr. Sun was interviewed at the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Microbe 2018 Conference, held June 7-11 in Atlanta, Ga.  The USF microbiologist shared his team’s progress on a vaccine for CDI infection and perspectives on what to consider when developing a vaccine to prevent or help treat this infection.  Watch the videos of his interviews below:

In addition to working on new therapeutics to treat or prevent Clostridium difficile, Dr. Sun’s laboratory is investigating antibiotic resistance in CDI and collaborating with other laboratories to develop more effective antibiotics against CDI.