A new drug that specifically targets hospital superbug Clostridium difficile while avoiding so-called "friendly" bacteria in the gut has been recommended by the European medicines supervisor.

It is hoped that Dificlir will improve the current treatment of the inflammation of the gut and severe diarrhoea caused by C. diff.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said the antibiotic should be authorised, a move they described as "a major step forward" in tackling the growing levels of resistance to available antibiotics across the European Union.

Infection with C. diff is a leading cause of disease in hospital, usually causing illness in patients who have been treated with other antibiotics, the EMA said.

But few acceptable treatments for C. diff are currently available, the agency added.

Because Dificlir targets C. diff specifically, its effect on other, beneficial bacteria in the gut is said to be minimal.

Dr Xavier Luria, the EMA's head of safety and efficacy, said: "This is a promising step forward in the agency's drive for addressing patients' needs in infectious diseases."

The drug is not currently licensed in the UK and is not used in British hospitals yet, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said.

The European Commission will now make a decision on whether to authorise marketing of the drug.