If you ever had a sniffle, you wanted the doctor to give you an antibiotic -- even if your sniffle was due to a virus and you knew, theoretically, that antibiotics had no effect on viruses.
But those days are long gone, now that antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections are, frightfully, becoming more common and probiotics are all the rage.
And that means that the quest to find alternative ways to kill off bacterial infections is more urgent than ever.
By the end of the year, ContraFect Corporation, a Yonkers, N.Y., biotech firm, will begin testing bacteriophages, which are viruses that infect bacteria and destroy them, to see if they could be a good alternative to treating bacterial infections.
Scientific American interviewed ContraFect microbiologist Dr. Vincent Fischetti about the work the company is doing, which includes:
- developing phage-lytic enzymes to prevent infection -- to decolonize people of pathogenic bacteria
- creating treatments that attack bio-films, an accumulation of organisms that prevent antibiotics from getting into infected areas; they are especially difficult to treat because they are not growing, and antibiotics attack organisms that are growing
This video below is a condensed version of an interview that Scientific American conducted with Dr. Fischetti:
Related on SmartPlanet:
- How epidemics begin with human actions in nature
- How your cat could be making you 'crazy'
- Fecal transplants hold promise, but face regulatory hurdles
- A new electricity source: Viruses!
- The science behind flesh-eating bacteria and its cure
- Landmark microbiome study surprises and redefines health
- New Ebola treatment cures monkeys a day after infection
- Found: largest virus ever
via: Scientific American
photo: Bacteriophage P2 under an transmission electron microscope (Mfh1234/Wikimedia)