Bacteriophage Therapy in Modern Medicine

John Evans


Antibiotic resistance in pathogenic bacteria has become a growing problem in medicine. Through mutation bacteria are able to become immune to antibiotics and pass on their resistance to other bacteria via gene transfer. Antibiotic resistant bacteria are able to thrive in the presence of antibiotics, rendering some medical treatments for pathogenic infections ineffective. A possible solution to this problem is the use of bacteriophages, viruses that attack bacteria. In past years, phage therapy has been neglected as a viable treatment option, but has been gaining more popularity because of the recent issue with antibiotic resistance. One experiment in particular performed by Vinodkumar et al. (2008) showed that phage therapy is effective in treating bacterial cause illness. The results proved that phages can eradicate antibiotic resistant bacteria if given in the appropriate dose and time. Furthermore, phage therapy can overcome bacterial resistance. If a bacterium becomes resistant to its phage, the phage can adapt to continue its antibacterial action as demonstrated by Kashiwagi and Yomo (2011). Research on phages to this point has not revealed any major problems with phage therapy, but some minor challenges exist. One such issue is the narrow host range utilized by Schofield et al. (2011) in the test they modified for identifying bacteria. This is a problem that limits phage therapy to only being useful if the bacteria responsible are identified but that can be solved with further research.

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