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Sugar Additive Superbug Link: Trehalose Fueling C. Difficile?

Sugar Additive Superbug Link: Trehalose Fueling C. Difficile?
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

By    |   Thursday, 04 January 2018 08:42 AM

A sugar additive may be partly fueling strains of a superbug that have plagued hospitals nationwide.

Trehalose, which is added to a large range of food products, could have helped two bacterial strains of Clostridium difficile to grow more virulent than before, a new study reported, according to the Los Angeles Times.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Clostridium difficile is a bacterium that can cause ailments from diarrhea to life-threatening inflammation of the colon. The bug typically harms older adults in hospitals or in long-term care facilities and can occur after use of antibiotic medications, per the Mayo Clinic.

"C. difficile infections cause immense suffering and death for thousands of Americans each year," Dr. Tom Frieden, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director, said in a statement.

Researchers at Houston's Baylor College of Medicine found that two strains of Clostridium difficile, called RT027 and RT078, used low concentrations of the sugar trehalose as a sole carbon source, the Times said.

In RT027, a trehalose protein was modified in a way that allowed the bacteria to metabolize trehalose even in quite low concentrations, according to the Baylor study, that was published in the scientific journal Nature, according to the newspaper.

"Although considered an ideal sugar for use in the food industry, the use of trehalose in the United States and Europe was limited before 2000 owing to the high cost of production (approximately U.S. $700 per kilogram)," the study's authors said, per the Times.

"The innovation of a novel enzymatic method for low-cost production from starch made it commercially viable as a food supplement (approximately U.S. $3 per kilogram)," the study continued.

London's Daily Mail wrote that trehalose is used in cream cakes, fruit juices, and jams. Trehalose, found in plants and fungi, also can be found in dried and frozen foods, nutrition bars, fruit fillings, instant noodles, rice, and white chocolate.

The Daily Mail wrote that trehalose is artificially produced as a food additive from corn starch using several bacterial enzymes.

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The sugar additive trehalose may be contributing to the rise of two superbugs by helping two bacterial strains of Clostridium difficile to grow more virulent.
sugar, additive, superbug, trehalose, bacteria
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2018-42-04
Thursday, 04 January 2018 08:42 AM
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