Our group is studying toxogenic Clostridium difficile with respect to the possible different strain-specific potential for toxin production in various strains and their relationship to the severity of clinical Clostridium difficile-associated disease. We are currently exploring the role of tcdC mutations in vitro and its clinical correlate in patients suffering from CDAD. In addition we are embarking on a project to document the epidemiology of CDAD in the greater Düsseldorf area using ribotyping techniques.
A second avenue of research is, together with Birgit Henrich the development of new molecular methods of detecting agents of infectious diseases in clinical specimens and also using these methods to provide timely information concerning virulence or antibiotic resistance. Methods we are developing or testing are real-time PCR, DNA-molecular beacons in FISH, early diagnosis of sepsis and the direct detection of gut pathogens in stool specimens.
Our group is also interested in the resistance mechanisms of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Enterobacter spp. in particular the metallo beta-lactamase carbapenemases. The MBL GIM-1 has a high prevalence in Düsseldorf and we are working on the gene structure of the plasmid containing the integron on which GIM-1 is situated. The mobility of this integron from plasmid to genome and also from species to species we have already demonstrated.