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Researchers find alternative method to fight bacteria


GLASGOW, Scotland New reports reveal that there may be an alternative defense to fighting off infectious bacteria—with viruses called bacteriophages.

Research conducted by Janice Spencer and a team of researchers from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland has found that the development of nylon sutures coated with bacteriophages has been effective in treating infections in rats, a procedure which may easily be translated for human use.

According to published reports, bacteriophages are viruses found in water that eat bacteria, but leave human cells intact. In water, the viruses are known to be “natural-born killers” but a challenge for researchers is how to make them active out of water.

In dry environments, the bacteria tend to fall apart and become ineffective after a matter of hours, but researchers discovered that chemically binding bacteriophages to polymer beads keeps the virus from breaking down. In the study, rats were injected with Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus and the ones that received the bacteriophages were effective in killing 96 percent of the bacteria; the virus remained active for three weeks.

Even though the use of antibiotics will still be widely used as the main bacteria fighter, bacteriophages will be a great alternative for the near future. “Antibiotics are broad-spectrum, and for certain bacterial strains, it’s easier to use bacteriophages if you know exactly which bacterium is causing the infection,” said Spencer, “[With bacteriophages], you can target one strain, and it wouldn’t affect any other bacteria that may be protecting cells.”

The findings have been presented at a meeting of the Society for General Microbiology and have since received much praise and interest from many hospitals and pharmaceuticals to use it as an alternative to antibiotics, according to reports.

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