The current push to limit antibiotic use in humans and animals has led to a resurgence of interest in therapies using bacteriophages or phage viruses to infect and destroy bacteria. While the concept isn’t new, advancements in biotechnology and improved understanding of the viruses could open the door for more phage treatments, particularly when bacterial infections develop resistance to antibiotics.
According to a recent CNN report, physicians recently used genetically modified phages to treat a severe, antibiotic resistant Mycobacterium abscessus infection in a patient. The young woman, diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at a young age, had fought bacterial infections for years, and eventually underwent a double lung transplant. Following surgery, she developed a severe infection that could not be successfully treated with antibiotics. Her prognosis was poor.
Working with physicians in the United States, her team developed a treatment using three separate phages, one of which they genetically engineered to more efficiently kill the target bacterium. While the treatment has not yet cured the patient, internal and external lesions associated with the infection have subsided significantly and her health has greatly improved. Her physicians remain optimistic the treatment eventually will clear the infection entirely.
See the full article from CNN.
For more on alternative technologies for combating antimicrobial resistance, see these articles on BovineVetOnline: