Washington: Scientists are looking for viruses that can target and destroy bacteria to tackle hard-to-treat bacterial infections.Bacteriophages are viruses that can infect bacteria and multiply within them, breaking down the cell and destroying the bacteria - amplifying themselves in the process to deal with more bacteria.They are found everywhere including in river water, soil, sewage and on the human body.Soon after their initial discovery in 1915, bacteriophages were investigated as antibacterial therapeutic agents. A limited understanding of their mode of action meant early work was often unsuccessful and with the advent of the chemical antibiotic era, bacteriophages were passed over as therapeutics.Dr David Harper at the Society for General Microbiology`s Spring Conference in Dublin explained why bacteriophages are being revisited as antibacterial agents.“Each bacteriophage is highly specific to a certain type of bacteria and needs the right bacterial host cell in order to multiply. The more bacterial targets there are, the quicker they grow by killing the host cells. Therefore it seems very likely that infections harbouring high numbers of bacteria will benefit most from bacteriophage therapy – for example chronically infected ears, lungs and wounds,” said Dr Harper, Chief Scientific Officer at AmpliPhi Bioscience in Bedfordshire.
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