Mad biologists rule

I should request other people write my posts more often! Back in November, I wrote a post about a novel type of antibiotics made from naturally occuring antimicrobial peptides that are produced by a wide variety of organisms, including humans. In that post, I referenced something called “phage therapy,” which is another somewhat “outside of the box” idea for treating bacterial infections. Now, Mike the Mad Biologist has an excellent post providing more information on phage therapy and its possibility as another potential weapon in our antibiotic arsenal:

“Phage therapy” is short for bacteriophage therapy. Bacteriophage are viruses that kill bacteria (literally, “bacteria devourers”). The basic concept of phage therapy is to introduce the phage into an infected patient. The phage infect the bacterium–an infection of an infection! Then the phage multiply within the bacterium, lyse (explode from the inside) the host bacterium and move onto the next bacterium. Essentially, you have a self-manufacturing antibiotic.

Check it out for the rest of the phage-y (a highly technical term) goodness.

Now I just need to get someone to finish up my manuscripts…

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Comments

  1. #1 Mote Dai
    January 14, 2006

    I work with a US government program that supports laboratories and scientists in the Former Soviet Union to reduce biological weapon proliferation risks. In one of the countries we work with, Georgia, they have been using “phage preparations” for a long time to treat illnesses. The institute that is involved is named after George Eliava, one of the dicoverers of bacteriophages. These folks swear by these “phage preparations” for both external (wound treatments) and internal therapies (such as Cholera treatments), but I have never seen the data to support such claims.

  2. #2 Tara Smith
    January 16, 2006

    Yeah, despite the fact that former USSR scientists reportedly did a lot of study on these, there’s not a lot of published work that can be found from that era. Vince Fischetti of Rockefeller University, however, has kind of led the charge in re-opening the idea of phage therapy in a modern era. He’s shown it to be effective against group A strep and anthrax, among others–at least in vitro. Something to keep an eye on, though it’s obviously not ready for prime-time yet.

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