Web Zap*Germs Archive

April 24, 2005

Researchers Discover Superbug-killing Bacteriophage

A bacteriophage (bacteria-killing virus) dubbed "phage K" by microbiologists has been found to be lethal to 14 varieties of antibiotic-resistant staph germs found in hospitals and cattle. When placed in a handwashing solution, the phage significantly reduced the staph bacteria when compared to a phage-free solution. No word on when a product might be developed from phage K.

Before the development of penicillin in the World War II era, bacteriophage were thought to be the next big antibacterial weapon. With the enormous success of penicillin and other antibiotics, however, phage research died out -- at least in the U.S. and Western Europe. In the former Soviet Union, however, research continued. One clinic in the former Soviet republic of Georgia -- the Eliava Institute in Tbilisi -- has experienced great success in deploying phage therapy to treat difficult bacterial infections. The Institute has spawned a for-profit company, Phage Therapy Center in Georgia which -- together with Phage Therapy Center Mexico, are subsidiaries of Phage International in the USA.

The beauty of phage therapy is that bacteria are unlikely to develop resistance to naturally occurring phage. Consequently, phage research is now underway to isolate phage to combat some of the most dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria strains, including MRSA and E. coli.


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