Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Infect to Treat

The particular article I looked at featured the use of phages in treating "chronic wounds", which often result in amputation or surgical removal. For people with drug-resistant infections, phages appear as a more and more attractive alternative. Phages are not available in US pharmacies, although pharmaceutical companies produced them until the1940's. Penicillin's arrival did much to remove phages from the market. Additionally, the FDA is strongly critical of phage therapy as the phages are a biological product, mutatable. However, phages remain an important medical tool in some part of the world. Specifically, scientists of the George Eliava Institute of Bateriophage, Microbiology, and Virology in Georgia, phages are a trusted medical treatment. Phages are readily available for medical application in this region, described as being about as new and untested as Aspirin.

Phages are naturally a part of our bodies and are found in the environment everywhere. Some people believe we should be spraying the stuff in kids’ throats right now. While a “natural” treatment is appealing to some, others are fundamentally unsettled by the concept of using a biological product, which may be unpredictable in nature.

Some scientists instead perceive phage therapy as an intermediate step in the discovery of effective anti-bacterials. Phage-based research is being conducted in an alternative approach. At Rockefeller University phages are being purified to extract the lysin, the enzyme used to dissolve bacterial cell walls. It sounds promising. Lysins are reportedly effective against whole families of bacteria, while removes the need to adapt to bacterial evolution.

No comments:

Post a Comment