Scientists at the Institute of Food Research at Norwich Research Park on Colney Lane discovered a bacteriophage against Clostridium difficile, which resulted in the formation of a new genus that was named Colneyvirus. The bacteria Clostridium difficile is categorized as a fully pledged superbug and seen as an urgent threat. According to the CDC’s Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the US, just in 2019 223,900 cases occurred back in 2017 and at least 12,800 people died. Researchers say that the new Colneyvirus could potentially be lifesaving.
Clostridium difficile infection is highly drug-resistant and causes microbiome dysbiosis and is notoriously high in recurrence. Bacteriophages have been looked at to target the bacteria. Researchers at Norwich screened 27 different Clostridium difficile strains for bacteriophages, finding one called ΦCD27 (phiCD27). A genome sequencing confirmed that the bacteriophage had not been discovered before.
Members of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) believe the newly discovered bacteriophage is genetically distinct enough to form a new genus of phages; Colneyvirus. The name was given after the address of the Institute of Food Research, Colney Lane and in order to honour the people, place, and institutes that were involved in the discovery and first description of a new group of phages, mentioned Dr. Evelien Adriaenssens, chair of the ICTV’s bacterial virus subcommittee.
The Institute of Food Research has moved to a new location within the civil parish of Colney. Colney has a population of only about 120 people, however, it is home to a number of world-leading research institutes and one of the UK’s largest teaching hospitals.