Killing drug-resistant bacteria
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.