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Bacteria Eaters Help People
January 29, 2010 16:33


Medics are seriously worried – antibiotics become useless, when treating many deathful infections. The only solution, according to medics, is in viruses.

These viruses are called bacteriophages, “ones, feeding on bacteria”. Bacteriophages were discovered in 1896 by British chemist Ernest Hankin, who described mysterious agent, causing death of bacterial cells. However, that agent got its name only in 1917, when Félix d'Herelle, fellow of Pasteur Institute, suggested calling it bacteriophage – “bacteria eater”. In 1921, followers of Félix d'Herelle described the case of successful treatment of staphylococcal skin infections with help of staphylococcal bacteriophage. Bacteriophages were widely studied and used for treating serious disease, such as dysentery, typhus and typhoid fevers, cholera and purulent septic infections, but in the middle of 20th century they were replaced by antibiotics, discovered in 1929 and became very popular in 40-60s of the same century. Success of antibiotics brought bacteriophages to oblivion. Studies of bacteriophages continued in Georgia, part of the Soviet Union at that time, and Poland.

Today bacteriophages are used in pediatrics, in treating burns (complex therapy with antibiotics), in surgery (treating septic wounds, when antibiotics don’t work), in therapy of various infections and even hospital-acquired infections, which are becoming a major health threat for those, who need to stay in hospital. Microorganisms, which cause hospital-acquired infections, are resistant to almost all existing antibiotics. Bacteriophages remain the only hope in this fight.



Unlike antibiotics, bacteriophages do not have any side effects, because they target specific bacteria and don’t affect human microbial population, essential for organisms’ normal functioning, in whole. Moreover, research showed that bacteriophages stimulate patient’s immune system, and that is the reason why they are extremely effective, when treating chronic diseases.

How does a bacteriophage work? DNA (carrier of genetic information) of bacteriophage embeds itself into bacterial chromosome, and after that, bacterial cell starts producing hundreds of new bacteriophages, which then leave the dead cell and invade other cells, until all bacteria of this kind die. When no one is left “to eat”, bacteriophages are removed from human organism. Russian scientists developed a wide range of bacteriophage agents, which are able to fight with a “bunch” of harmful bacteria, which inhabit human organisms. According to the scientists, Russia is the only country in the world, where bacteriophages are produced on an industrial scale at three plants In Nizhny Novgorod, Ufa and Perm.

Well, Russian researchers say that at the moment no antibiotics for fighting Gram-negative bacteria exist. Gram-negative bacteria (Gram-negative refers to certain composition of microbial cell wall), for instance, cause all known intestinal infections. Search for new antibiotics results in lesser possible antibiotics every day. Out of fifteen recent candidates into antibiotics, only six are able to fight Gram-negative bacteria, and only one is currently passing third stage of clinical trials, which means it be introduced into medical practice can relatively soon.

Source: Science & Life

Kizilova Anna

Tags: Russian medicine     

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