Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

From Russia with gloves

23.04.2002


Ex-Soviet Union viruses could fill antibiotic gap.



Russian remedies could take out hardy US bacteria. Long-abandoned by Western medicine, viruses that naturally kill microbes are being imported as a potential substitute for antibiotics.

The emergence of multi-drug-resistant bacteria is intensifying the search for antibiotic replacements. Bemoaning the problem, clinician Glenn Morris of the University of Maryland in College Park got an idea from a colleague from the former Soviet republic of Georgia. Morris explains: "He said, ’why don’t you use ’phage therapy?’; I said, ’what’s ’phage therapy?’."


’Phages - more properly, bacteriophages - are viruses that are harmless to humans but kill bacteria. They were widely researched as a means to tackle disease until the 1940s. When potent antibiotics appeared on the scene, the West discarded them.

Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union pursued ’phage therapy, so ’phage creams, pills and plasters are commonly available there. Now Morris and his colleagues are carrying out basic tests to update the treatments for US product licenses.

Worktops contaminated with the foodborne bacteria Listeria are clean within 24 hours of ’phage treatment, he told the Experimental Biology 2002 meeting in New Orleans on Sunday. Salmonella and Escherichia coli are similarly wiped out. ’Phages could be used in food production or packaging, Morris suggests.

Unlike antibiotics, ’phages kill only a specific bacterial type, leaving other, beneficial bugs intact. For example, antibiotic resistant strains of the gut bacteria Enterococcus, which can cause dangerous infections after surgery or in chemotherapy patients, are also being tackled.

We are naturally surrounded by ’phages. The type that Morris is using attack and multiply inside bacteria then split them apart to escape. The ’phages keep killing until their victims run out, and then quietly die.

Cold science

Part of the reason that the West dropped ’phages was that bacteria might evade them, says Richard Young, who studies pathogenic microbes at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts. A single change in the bacterial receptor to which they bind could render it resistant to the virus: "It was viewed as its Achilles heel," he says.

A mixture of 30-40 different ’phages all aimed at the same bug should get around this problem. "A cocktail is important," agrees Heidi Kaplan, who studies antibiotic-resistant bacteria at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston.

"US science tends to have a prejudice against Soviet science," adds Morris, who now collaborates with the Eliava Institute of Bacteriophage, Microbiology and Virology in Tbilisi, Georgia. But Morris is not alone in trying to bring down the scientific cold wall - two small biotech companies besides his are also on the case.

HELEN PEARSON | © Nature News Service

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Penn study identifies new malaria parasites in wild bonobos
21.11.2017 | University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

nachricht NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures
17.11.2017 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

From Hannover around the world and to the Mars: LZH delivers laser for ExoMars 2020

21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Borophene shines alone as 2-D plasmonic material

21.11.2017 | Materials Sciences

Penn study identifies new malaria parasites in wild bonobos

21.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>