Using 'Phage' Viruses to Help Fight Infection

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In the days before modern antibiotics, some researchers saw viruses that can seek out and destroy bacteria — called bacteriophages — as promising candidates for fighting infections. Now, as more organisms develop resistance to existing antibiotics, phage research is finding new favor.

At the Society for General Microbiology meeting in Edinburgh, researchers presented work on incorporating bacteriophages into dressings for wounds and cleaning materials used in hospitals. The scientists found a way to bind the phages to polymer particles, allowing the viruses to remain active for up to three weeks rather than breaking down after a few hours. The hope is that the phage-based approach will provide new weapons in the battle against dangerous bacteria.

Alexander Sulakvelidze and Thomas Hausler discuss bacteriophages and their place in modern medicine with Ira Flatow. Sulakvelidze is vice president of research and development at Intralytix, a biotechnology company. Hausler is the author of Viruses vs. Superbugs: A Solution to the Antibiotics Crisis and a science reporter for Swiss Public Radio.



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