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Margaret Chan, director general of the WHO, warned that bacteria were starting to become so resistant to common antibiotics that it could bring about “the end of modern medicine as we know it.” As a result, she claimed, every antibiotic ever developed is at risk of becoming useless, making once-routine operations impossible.
Phage therapy takes advantage of this particular group of viruses in a relatively simple way; it aims to treat bacterial infections through the application of such phages. Though for some time people did not consider this use of bacteriophages feasible, since the emergence of many antibiotic-resistant pathogens, the field is again on the rise (Inal 2003).
Recent WHO figures suggest that 14,000 people die in the US alone every year due to multidrug-resistant bacteria acquired in hospitals. Luckily, bacteriophages are found in all bacteria so there is at least a theoretical possibility that therapies can be developed for all species of bacteria (Inal 2003).
Because humans are unlikely to be able to come up with novel antibiotics forever and bacteria will probably continue to evolve resistances, from the human perspective it is important that new ways of thwarting infection are discovered.