Apr 21, 2017 02:51 AM EDT
A study conducted by researchers at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Baylor College of Medicine may have found the solution to a problem faced by the medical profession. For centuries, doctors have raised their concern about the increasing resistant of bacterial infection to antibiotic treatment. The study, published in the journal "Scientific Reports", indicated that the virus bacteriophages have reduced the levels of bacteria among mice infected with superbugs that are resistant to antibiotics.
"Our research team set out to determine whether phages can be effective at killing a large group of bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics and cause deadly diseases in people," Baylor College Associate Professor of Molecular Virology and Microbiology and study author Dr. Anthony Maresso said. "We are running out of available options to treat patients who have these deadly bacterial infections; we need new ideas."
Bacteria can infect a person's vital organs when they grow out of control and the body fights back through the immune system, as per Science Daily. However, an excessive response by the immune system can lead to sepsis and result to organ failure, tissue damage and ultimately death. Antibiotic can stop the growth of bacteria unless these become resistant to the treatment. This dilemma could be solved by bacteriophages based on the study.
The idea of using bacteriophages against bacteria resistant to antibiotics as it was originally proposed by microbiologist Felix d'Herelle in 1926. Professor Robert Ramig also of Baylor College said the goal was to hunt for phages that would be able to kill at least 12 strains of bacteria isolated from patients. While there are many phages in the laboratory, no single phage can kill all the bacterial strains that are resistant to an antibiotic.
Expected to benefit from the bacteriophages are cancer patients who are at high risk of sepsis since chemotherapy can suppress the immune system, according to the Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News. Bacteria is usually pointed to as the cause of an illness but studies show that there are viruses like phages that can attack these bacteria. The outcome of the research is very significant considering that doctors are running out of options to treat patients infected with deadly infections.
The National Institute of General Medical Sciences reported that in the United States alone, over a million people get affected by sepsis every year and 50 percent of them die. Deaths from sepsis in the U.S. are more than the number of deaths as a result of AIDS as well as breast and prostate cancer. While antibiotic can generally control the growth of bacteria more types of bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics. The bacteriophages could be a new strategy to fight these infections and save lives.