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UH Moment

UH Moment: “C-Diff”

Some illnesses seem like nuisances, but can carry deadly results.  One University of Houston researcher is finding innovative ways to tackle one such disease.  Here's this week's UH Moment.


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Professor Kevin Garey of the UH College of Pharmacy researches a potentially debilitating disease known as C-Diff, a pathogen that grows in your gut, quite unfairly, after you’ve received life-saving antibiotics.

“The premise is either to prevent this infection in the first place or when you get it to treat it appropriately,” he said.  “So this really is where this research comes in, to try to prevent and treat this devastating health careassociated infection.”

On average, in many large hospitals, 200-300 patients each year will contract C-Diff, greatly impacting quality of life. Garey’s studies have identified new treatment regimens with so-called chaser drugs to prevent recurrence when the disease has become resistant to more common treatment strategies. But he’s also looked deeper into predicting who will get the disease.

Kevin Garey, professor, UH College of Pharmacy“So obviously you’re going to look at the elderly, you’d look at patients who’ve been given an antibiotic before. Those would be major risk factors,” he said.  “But we found that what you’re born with, your genetics, can actually predict this disease.  We could actually start some prophylactic measures. This was actually quite big and quite astounding when we saw it.”

Working with colleagues at the College of Pharmacy and the City of Houston health department on a project supported by the CDC, Garey also is part of a national effort to ensure appropriate use of antibiotics in hospitals by integrating data on the use of these drugs into a federal reporting database

“Recurrent C-Diff is extremely debilitating for patients and could lead to an extremely poor quality of life.  Theoretically, if you could identify a high-risk population to figure out who’s going to get that disease, come up with a very effective prevention strategy, you could get rid of this disease totally. It would be gone. And that would be what success looks like.”  

Kevin Garey is part of what’s happening at the University of Houston.