Bacteriophages (phages) are viruses of bacteria that can kill and lyse the bacteria they infect.
After their discovery early in the 20th century, phages were widely used to treat various bacterial diseases in people and animals.
How could bacteriophages be used to treat bacterial infections?
Phage therapy or viral phage therapy is the therapeutic use of bacteriophages to treat pathogenic bacterial infections. The bacterial cell causing the infection is unable to reproduce, and instead produces additional phages. Phages are very selective in the strains of bacteria they are effective against.
Can a bacteriophage make a human sick?
Other causes of bacteriophage infections encompass bacterial viruses that are present in humans and are harmless under normal conditions, but can become pathogenic under certain circumstances.
Can bacteriophages kill superbugs?
Working together as a phage cocktail, lytic phages can target and destroy superbugs. When the bacteria begin to resist the phages, biologists can genetically modify the phages to better attack the bacteria. The bacteria must “choose” what to become resistant to, leaving them vulnerable to the other treatment method.
What are the risks of phage therapy?
Multiple side effects, including intestinal disorders, allergies, and secondary infections (e.g., yeast infections) have been reported (76). A few minor side effects reported (17, 58) for therapeutic phages may have been due to the liberation of endotoxins from bacteria lysed in vivo by the phages.