Bacteriophages, Natural Drugs to Combat Superbugs

Title: Bacteriophages, Natural Drugs to Combat Superbugs

Source: ScienceDaily (the source for latest research news)

Date: April 18th, 2017

The link:

Summary: In this article, the researchers are trying to use bacteriophages to help fight the bacteria resistant to antibiotic treatment. As bacteria are becoming more resistant to antibiotics, it raises the potential problem of running out of possible antibiotics to use in severe cases. It takes a long time to get a new product to the market. We lack this time. That’s why the researches need new ideas. One of them was to try and use bacteriophage against bacteria inside the host. So far, there are twelve bacterial strains that resistant to antibiotics, collected in the lab. None of the available phages can kill the antibiotic-resistant E. coli, the sequence type 131. The researches acquired bacteriophages from feces of birds and dogs. The researchers believe that those species can carry phages for resistant bacteria. In the lab, mice models are used to mimic how cancer patients develop life-threatening infections as the disease progresses. When the immune system is compromised, and cannot detect antibiotic-resistant bacteria, it is believed that phages can step in and deal with them. The question to further research here, is the phage specificity to certain bacteria only and the host’s immune system sometimes can neutralize phage’s activity.

Connections: The material about bacteriophages and their lifestyles, lytic (virulent) and lysogenic (temperate) replication cycles was covered in the lectures. It is nice to read in depth about the material that you already learned and know.

Critical Analysis: I’ve chose the article because it was interesting to find out how this research was implemented. The article is well-written and provide good background information, together with present experiments with ideas for the future research. Of course, some time is needed to put it all together and conduct more experiments until the phage will be able to work inside the immunocompromised host.

Question: What are your thoughts on “phage’ treatment? What do you think will happen to the immunocompromised host when the phage will destroy bacteria, and all toxins would be released? For some reason, I thought about this right after reading this material.

2 Comments for “Bacteriophages, Natural Drugs to Combat Superbugs”



This is amazing! I like the part when they say the technical work to make personalized phages for patients can be implemented by a biology major. It looks like a new type of biology job is about to open up. It is good that they say it does not target the host’s beneficial bacteria since that would open up new avenues for infection. According to the article, it does not matter if the phages are released since they are very specific to the bacteria that is being targeted. So even if the host is immunocompromised, they should not have to fight the phages specifically.



I found the article very interesting. I particularly like that the scientist noted that developing the phages was very cheep compared to antibacterial medication development. I think phage treatment would be a great alternative to antibacterial. In fact it is already being used in places like Russia and Georgia. Even in some places it is used in the USA, however it has to be loop holed in because the FDA doesn’t really allow it as a cocktail of phages is need and the FDA hates cocktails. As for what happens to the toxins when bacteria are killed, that is something called the Jarish—Herxheimer reaction. It happens with antibacterials too as some of them lyse the cells. Mostly it is fever, but there are a lot of things that might happen. Here are some links you might find interesting.—Herxheimer_reaction