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Phage News

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posted on Nov, 6 2005 @ 11:56 AM
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Bacteriophages - or phages - are viruses that kill bacteria. They were used successfully to treat infection in the 1930's - but then were upstaged by penicillin. Something of a medical conspiracy arranged to kill the growing industry in natural phages, and replace it with an antibiotic industry, starting with penicillin. Only Russia maintained their phage stocks.

Now - almost all bacteria are resistant to antibiotics, and most now just mutate immediately when they're exposed to antibiotics. The situation is dire - making simple infections potentially deadly once again, and affecting the safety of surgery.


So out of necessity - scientists are looking at phages again. Just tripped over this PubMed citation:



Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2005 Nov;49(11):4789-92. Therapeutic Effects of Bacteriophage Cpl-1 Lysin against Streptococcus pneumoniae Endocarditis in Rats. Entenza JM, Loeffler JM, Grandgirard D, Fischetti VA, Moreillon P. Department of Fundamental Microbiology, Biology Building, University of Lausanne, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland. Jose.Entenza@unil.ch.

Cpl-1, a pneumococcal phage lytic enzyme, was tested in rats with experimental endocarditis due to Streptococcus pneumoniae WB4. High-dose regimen Cpl-1 eliminated pneumococci from blood within 30 min and decreased bacterial titers in vegetations (>4 log(10) CFU/g) within 2 h. Rapid bacterial lysis induced by Cpl-1 treatment increased cytokine secretion noticeably.
PMID: 16251333



And more:


Monday, October 31, 2005. Phages: A New Way to Fight Bad Germs

Back in June I was amazed at this story in Wired about phages, bacteria-eating viruses that could be the answer to antibiotic resistance. The first treatment to use the therapy could be available this year.

"Half a century ago, antibiotics revolutionized medicine by turning many once-deadly infections like tuberculosis into minor impediments. But overuse is rapidly rendering antibiotics ineffective, and scientists know they need a replacement fast. One of the most promising options is one that's been used in Eastern Europe and Russia for decades: bacteriophage therapy

One potential drawback is that phage therapies might be too specific for widespread use against infection, according to Carl Merril, a senior investigator at the National Institutes of Health. For example, one phage might work for one strain of Streptococcus pneumoniae (the most common type of pneumonia) but not for the 27 others.




More interesting background: THE VIRUS THAT CURES

* At a press conference on May 23rd 1997 scientists finally acknowledged the arrival of the untreatable bacteria they'd feared for years.

NARRATOR:
Today superbugs look triumphant. They are bacteria that resist our antibiotics. The drugs which have kept us safe for 50 years are beginning to fail.

DR GLENN MORRIS:
This is a serious situation. Over the last 5 years we've clearly seen a change in our ability to treat what should have been easily treatable infections because the bacteria have developed the ability of resisting the antibiotics.

NARRATOR:
And the more antibiotics we use, the more resistant bacteria become. Every year more than 5 million people die from infections that don't respond to antibiotics.

These horrifying bacteria have colonised hundreds of hospitals in Britain, and thousands in the USA. And things are going to get worse. Staphylococcus is one of the most dangerous of all bacteria. One by one it has beaten all our best antibiotics. Until now only one is left - vancomycin.





posted on Nov, 6 2005 @ 04:14 PM
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the Russians never fail to astonish me, i mean that's such an elegant, straight to the point and, *gasp* easy way to do it. just gotta know what nature has in store, right?!

our culture is far too obsessed with overly complicated solutions, it's a shame, isn't it? btw, voted you 'way above'.



posted on Nov, 6 2005 @ 05:58 PM
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Originally posted by Long Lance
that's such an elegant, straight to the point and, *gasp* easy way to do it.

our culture is far too obsessed with overly complicated solutions, it's a shame, isn't it? btw, voted you 'way above'.


Thanks Long Lance. ...Cool thing is, phages evolve and mutate right along with the bacteria - so the bacteria can't become resistant.

BTW - I assume viruses and other microbes have natural predators too, but haven't found anything on it. Have you? Anyone else?



posted on Nov, 7 2005 @ 01:33 PM
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Originally posted by soficrow


...Cool thing is, phages evolve and mutate right along with the bacteria - so the bacteria can't become resistant.

BTW - I assume viruses and other microbes have natural predators too, but haven't found anything on it. Have you? Anyone else?



since such a cure can be found simply by experiment, don't even have to know the agent itself, all you really have to do is a) cultivate your target germ then b) add any stuff you fancy in a small dose and see what happens, if it works in the lab all that's left is 'life testing' so to speak...

there are two obvious sources for samples, a) the natural habitat of the target germ, wherever that is or some type of extremely dense population of germs - that's what the Russians used, sewage. of course, there are many other potential sources, landfills, fresh guano etc.

gotta work with extreme diligence, though, no experiment can ever be reliably repeated, because of the random nature of your source, so, once you have it, it must be kept safe and replicated asap before there's time to lose it by stupidity or adverse conditions. it's a live agent, so it can't be stored like a chemical....

the most fasctinating aspect, imho, is that it does not take sience to use it, this kind of cure has probably been in use for ages, i will see if i can find reference to similar practices in native tribes.

PS: viruses are just bits of encoded information, i doubt there is an enemy that feeds on them, although some lifeforms may have developed a defense against them. if so, this method can be expanded to more than 2 agents. (severly increasing complexity of research though)



posted on Nov, 7 2005 @ 02:26 PM
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Sofi - Great Post. I have long been a proponent of alternatives to Antibiotic therapy. Phages are a natural choice. I was reading some stuff recently in fact suggesting that phages do in fact escape the immune system long enough to be effective. I would imagine that this would be dose dependent as well... at least to a certain point. Also, your point about mutating is well taken, though bacteria are less likely to become resistant to phages, since phages don't target specific biochemical systems.





posted on Nov, 7 2005 @ 03:10 PM
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Originally posted by mattison0922
Sofi - Great Post. I have long been a proponent of alternatives to Antibiotic therapy. ...your point about mutating is well taken, though bacteria are less likely to become resistant to phages, since phages don't target specific biochemical systems.



Thanks mattison. ...One of my ongoing rants is that our sterilization and decontamination procedures don't kill disease-causing microbes - just make them mutate into more virulent forms. But we DO kill off the phages. Duh. So I'm thinking - if we didn't kill of the phages, they would mutate and evolve along with the nasty microbes.

Long Lance -
re viruses. FYI - There's some interesting work being done on insects - insect immune systems ARE resistant to viruses, if I remember correctly. Also, insects are suddenly turning up with diseases that infect humans, and becoming significant transmission vectors (beyond the usual mosquito/rat/flea stuff).



ed - dropped a line

[edit on 7-11-2005 by soficrow]



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