Drug discovery company Summit has received a £4m boost to develop a potential treatment for a hospital superbug.

Summit, based at Milton Park, will receive £1.26m immediately from the Wellcome Trust to test its new C. difficile antibiotic on volunteer patients, with a phase 1 clinical trial based in Leeds due to start by the end of the year, with the results expected by June 2013.

If the first trial is successful, the Wellcome Trust will provide more grants to fund further trials.

Spokesman Richard Pye said: "It's very exciting. The C.difficile programme is going very well and this is a substantial commitment from the Wellcome Trust. It is a testament to the quality of our science."

Summit's chief executive Glyn Edwards said: “This Wellcome Trust award endorses the potential of our promising antibiotic for the treatment of serious infections caused by C. difficile bacteria, and will provide non-dilutive funding to de-risk its development as it advances through important clinical milestones.”

Ted Bianco of the Wellcome Trust said: “C. difficile infection represent a serious healthcare threat and this £4m translational award underlines the Wellcome Trust’s commitment to supporting the development of new and effective antibiotic treatments.

“We are pleased to be extending our successful partnership with Summit and look forward to testing in the clinic the potential of the drug.”

The company is also working on a treatment for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a fatal genetic muscle wasting disease.

Mr Pye said the C. difficile trials would be carried out under contract and would not increase the 20-strong workforce at Milton Park.

But he added: “As our two programmes move towards clinic we may need to take more people on.”