What is bacteriophages therapy?
Bacteriophages or phage therapy is the therapeutic use of bacterial viruses to destroy pathogenic bacterial infections. These bacterial viruses are host specific they only affect certain types of bacterial cells and they recognize their targeted bacteria by a specific receptor found on membrane surface. Once the viruses find their target, they attach to the surface and inject their genetic material or DNA which is stored in the virus head through the tail into the bacterial cell. Therefore, the cell either is lysed directly due to the disruption in its metabolism or starts producing viral proteins until the cell bursts and releases hundreds of new bacteriophages. In bacteriophages therapy, usually, injected the bacterial viruses near the infectious point (Extend).
How long have we known about bacteriophages therapy?
Well, to answer this question we should go through the historical background of bacteriophages. Bacteriophages were first observed in 1896 by British bacteriologist Earnest Hankin. When he was testing samples from two Indian rivers, Ganga and Yamuna, he found that the samples contained reliable protection against cholera. Later he published what he found in the Annals of the Pasteur Institute in French. Two years after this report, another bacteriologist Félix d’Herelle independently reported similar experimental findings in a different study (Wittebole, De Roock and Opal, 2013). Félix d’Herelle didn’t stop here, he interduce the use of bacteriophages in the medical field and he published various non-randomized trials world-wide. He even introduced treatment for invasive infections, and he summarized all these observations and findings in 1931. From here the world started thinking of bacteriophages as a therapy for infectious diseases (Abedon et al., 2011). However, the first published paper on the phage clinical use was published in Belgium by Bruynoghe and Maisin, who used bacteriophage to treat carbuncles furuncles by injection of staphylococcal-specific phage close to the cutaneous boils. They described clear evidence of clinical improvement within 48 h, with reduction in pain, swelling, and fever in treated patients Bacteriophages applications: where are we now?
Since these microorganisms were discovered, researches were trying to utilize them in very diverse fields and here some of its applications:
Harmful bacteria (e.g. Salmonella, Escherichia coli and Campylobacter) can get access to food during milking, slaughtering, processing, fermentation, storage or packaging. However, studies have demonstrated that bacteriophages have the great potential to safely inactivate these pathogens in food more than the other techniques. Moreover, bacteriophages are suitable for all raw products such as fresh vegetables and fruit and can address all stages of production farm to fork (García et al., 2008).
Bacteriophages can also address plant infection such as Erwinia amylovora infection of apple blossom and bacterial spot of tomato caused by Xanthomonas campestri. The successes in this field made companies such as the US company Omnilytics develop a commercial biocontrol product (Agriphage) Pros:·
Phages are very specific, and they affect
only targeted bacterial cells. Antibiotics affected more than targeted cells. ·
Phage therapy has no serious side effects.
Antibiotics have many side effects e.g. Intestinal disorder and allergies. ·
Can destroy antibiotics resistance bacteria. ·
Extremely low production cost. Cons:·
Can transport toxic genes between bacterial
Very few papers were published on phage
therapy. More research is needed.
Phages are more difficult to train it
requires special training.