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June 17, 2019 Monday 01:52:50 PM IST

Killing drug-resistant bacteria

Science Innovations

Scientists have used an experimental therapy that relies on bacteria-infecting viruses collected, in part, through Howard Hughes Medical Institute's programme to fight a Mycobacterium infection in a 15-year-old girl who had undergone a double lung transplant.  Mycobacterium is a highly drug-resistant strain of bacteria. Weeks after the transplant, doctors noticed signs of infection in her liver. Then, they saw nodules - pockets of bacteria pushing up through the skin - on her arms, legs, and buttocks. The girl's infection had spread, and traditional antibiotics were no longer working.

A new personalised treatment has helped the girl heal. The treatment relies on genetically engineering bacteriophages, viruses that can infect and kill bacteria.
Researchers tweaked the phages' genomes to turn them into bacteria killers then made a cocktail of phages. Now doctors have successfully used phages to treat a patient with a multidrug-resistant bacterium.The idea is to use bacteriophages as antibiotics - as something we could use to kill bacteria that cause infection.


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