European project to develop vaccine for
Clostridium difficile

8 November 2013

A three-year project involving four European countries aims to develop an oral vaccine against the common hospital infection Clostridium difficile.

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 Royal Holloway.

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.

Further information

See the CDVAX project website:


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