Bacteriophage Therapy: An Alternative To Antibiotics In The Age Of Multi-Drug Resistance
In 1928 Penicillium notatum was discovered by Alexander Fleming. This pioneering discovery initiated the antibiotic era and revolutionized modern medicine and treatments. After this amazing discovery, bacterial infections were not seen as threatening as they once were. Doctors began prescribing antibiotics for less severe conditions. Due to this common practice, bacteria that have been treated with antibiotics have evolved and are becoming increasingly immune to our first lines of defense. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other recognized organizations, we are in a state of emergency regarding bacteria that has become resistant to antibiotics and other drugs and is considered a global public health issue.
In order to remedy and preserve our ability to combat bacterial immunity new efforts must be made. If continuing along this path we are on, diseases that are understood to have been eradicated or able to be alleviated will prevail as they did before the widespread use of antibiotics. Studies traced back to the 1800s have reported incidents of antibacterial activity across many climates and geographical locations. They included phenomena such as bacteria dying in the Ganges River, and what looked like bacteria undergoing autolysis, which is when a cell kills itself by using its own enzymes. Although these claims could have been the result of many other circumstances, they are consistent with the activity of a Bacteriophage.
A bacteriophage is a virus that kills bacteria. They are extremely adaptive and can survive in many different environments such as deserts, soil, hot springs, and humans. They are among the most common organism on earth. There are understood to be approximately phages on earth. This is more than any other organism on Earth. Each phage is able to kill a certain species of bacteria. The phage will find its compatible host and will attach itself to the bacterial host in a process known as adsorption. The virus then uses its tail and tail fibers to inject its own DNA into the bacteria's cytoplasm. Phage enzymes are released and breakdown the bacteria’s structure as the phage integrates its own DNA into the host. Injecting its own DNA causes the cell to burst, releasing a whole new set of phages. In 1925 Felix d’Herelle discovered clear plaque on a bacterial culture and what is now known as a Phage. This is considered to be the starting point of modern research for phages. D’herelle also concluded that phages were able to be used as a natural remedy for bacteria. Due to a phages bacteria killing properties they are now being looked at to combat our ever rising problem with bacterial immunity or “superbugs”. As stated prior, medicine is at a critical point with antibiotic resistant infections and must find another remedy.
Today bacteriophage therapy is being given more attention to be the next potential treatment. The importance of researching bacteriophages is only increasing as time goes by. According to the Phage Discovery Guide, due to the simple structure of a phage they are easily manipulated and can be observed easily through different methods and help researchers come to conclusions about important mysteries surrounding genetic and cellular biology as well as contributing to the investigation of combating bacterial immunity.