Phage Therapy

So yesterday I was watching a TV programme called ‘Trust Me, I’m a Doctor’ and they did a small section on alternatives to antibiotics, which sparked my interest to find out more about how we may be able to combat disease without the danger of breeding ‘superbugs’.

Phage Therapy is the use of bacteriophages to treat foreign pathogens causing infections in the human body. The way in which this works is the phage latches on to the foreign bacterial cell and injects its genome into the cell. It then reproduces within the bacterium and bursts out, killing the cell and releasing more phages to continue attacking the disease. The potential benefits of this alternative to antibiotics is that even if bacteria evolve to become resistance to the phages, because the phages are themselves living organisms, they can evolve to overcome this resistance. In addition to this, as bacteriophages target only very specific strains of bacteria, they will not kill useful bacteria like antibiotics do. Moreover, there are more bacteriophages on the planet than all other organisms (including all other bacteria) combined, so this source is in no danger of running out.

However, there are a few known disadvantages to phages, such as, firstly phages can only target certain strains of bacteria, which means it requires a lot of research and time to find the specific phage to combat the infection. Also, there is still a lot of research that need stop be done to ensure that all types of phages will not be harmful to the body. Finally, they are currently being used to treat bacterial infections in Russia, Georgia and Poland, but is not being researched anywhere, meaning that only people who live, or can afford to travel to these areas are able to be treated with this therapy.

Thanks for reading!

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