Bacteriophages are viruses that can infect bacteria and multiply within them, breaking down the cell and destroying the bacteria - amplifying themselves in the process to deal with more bacteria.
They are found everywhere including in river water, soil, sewage and on the human body. Soon after their initial discovery in 1915, bacteriophages were investigated as antibacterial therapeutic agents. A limited understanding of their mode of action meant early work was often unsuccessful and with the advent of the chemical antibiotic era, bacteriophages were passed over as therapeutics.
Dr Harper, Chief Scientific Officer at AmpliPhi Bioscience in Bedfordshire explains why bacteriophages are being revisited as antibacterial agents. "Each bacteriophage is highly specific to a certain type of bacteria and needs the right bacterial host cell in order to multiply. The more bacterial targets there are, the quicker they grow by killing the host cells. Therefore it seems very likely that infections harbouring high numbers of bacteria will benefit most from bacteriophage therapy – for example chronically infected ears, lungs and wounds," he said.
"For these types of infection, only a tiny dose of the virus is needed - as small as one thousandth of a millionth of a gram. This can usually be administered directly to the site of infection in a spray, drops or a cream. The major advantage to bacteriophages is that they don't infect human cells so seem likely to be very safe to use."
Increasing resistance to antibiotics has meant that bacterial infections are becoming more and more difficult to treat. With fewer antibiotics available to treat drug-resistant infections, research into bacteriophage therapy has been accelerated. "The rate of new antibiotics coming onto the market does not match the rate of increasing drug-resistance. The need for new approaches to counter such high resistance is both urgent and vital. New approaches will save lives," stressed Dr Harper.
Clinical trials for bacteriophage therapy are now underway. The first clinical trial for safety was reported in 2005 and the results demonstrating the effectiveness of bacteriophage therapy were published in 2009. This clinical trial was conducted by AmpliPhi. The company is planning further clinical trials in conditions where existing antibacterial therapies are not able to help. "With the results of further clinical trials, once regulatory issues are overcome and future investment secured in this area of research, this should lead to the development of novel products suitable for widespread use to tackle bacterial diseases and overcome antibiotic resistance", said Dr Harper.
Laura Udakis | EurekAlert!
Nanoparticle Exposure Can Awaken Dormant Viruses in the Lungs
16.01.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt
Cholera bacteria infect more effectively with a simple twist of shape
13.01.2017 | Princeton University
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences
17.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
17.01.2017 | Architecture and Construction