Fighting the natural enemies of antibiotic-resistant bacteria

in book the perfect predator Couple consisting of Steffanie Strathdee and Thomas Patterson recount the ordeal of the latter, who contracted the virus during a Thanksgiving Nile cruise in 2015 Acinetobacter baumanniia highly virulent bacterium that is resistant to almost all antibiotics.

Patterson flew to Germany, where doctors tried to use a group of antibiotics to kill the deadly superbug that also infected troops during the Iraq War, earning the pathogen its nickname Iraqbacterium.

After a year in intensive care, Stephanie’s husband was dying. That’s when she launched an incredible reaction and hunted down the bacteria’s natural enemies to save her partner, who was in the intensive care unit at UC Medical Center in San Diego in a grueling fight for life Failed.

The infectious disease epidemiologist also discovered online that in Tbilisi, Georgia, they had developed a biological alternative called phage therapy, which uses bacteriophages, or bacteriophages, to treat drug-resistant bacteria. Although this option was not widely available around the world, Stephanie obtained the specific phage in a different laboratory and got American scientists involved to save her terminally ill husband.

Under compassionate use (an option that allows experimental medicine to be used as a last resort), Thomas was given a cocktail of bacteriophages injected into his bloodstream to deal with bacteria that had spread to other parts of his body.

Incredibly, even after showing promising results in cases of urinary tract and lung infections and other cases in patients in the United States and Europe, the use of phages to fight infectious bacteria is still a medical technology in development and therefore not yet is widely used. Established as an alternative therapy.

As the number of bacteria that are multidrug-resistant to antibiotics continues to rise, the scientific community is turning to treatments that focus on using viruses called bacteriophages, or bacteriophages, which are predators of bacteria.


Contact information VertigoVíctor Manuel González Zúñiga, a researcher at the Center for Genome Sciences (CCG), explains that they isolated a variety of phages in the laboratory to understand how they infect bacteria , and in this way try to solve the problem of antimicrobial resistance. Recent studies show that it kills nearly one million people around the world every year.

Ever since the sounds of bacteriophages originating in Greece, people have been fascinated by these microorganisms that actually eat disease (Phage) means “to eat,” and in simple terms, it states that “phage viruses are those that naturally exploit bacteria by infecting them and replicating within them until they explode, killing the microbial host.”

Like science fiction, he details: “Phages are biological elements that are introduced into bacteria, bind to the cell membrane, and transfer their DNA inside the cell to replicate. As they replicate, they express a range of proteins and reproduce , producing thousands of phages inside the cell and eventually killing the cell. Therefore, they are called ‘predators’ because they are so effective at destroying bacteria.”

It also points out that there are billions of phages on Earth, which have co-evolved with the bacteria they feed on for thousands of years, helping to control their populations. Every bacterium in the world, whether beneficial or pathogenic, has phages associated with it. They are small viruses on the nanoscale that carry genetic material useful even to bacterial cells, such as toxins and other virulence and antibiotic resistance genes.

According to experts, its therapeutic use was initiated in 1919 by French-Canadian microbiologist Felix d’Herelle, who used bacteriophages to cure a child suffering from severe dysentery.

However, the discovery of penicillin in 1928 and its subsequent commercial production in the 1940s ushered in the era of antibiotics, effectively replacing phage therapy.

Those who never forgot about bacteriophages are some scientists, mainly from the countries of the former Soviet Union. Even today, Georgia’s Eliava Institute produces and sells therapeutic phage-based materials to fight gastrointestinal diseases, among other things.



Today, several universities around the world have revived this research in the name of phage therapy, an alternative to antibiotics for the simple reason that antibiotics are becoming less and less effective, and with them, multiple The increase in drug-resistant pathogenic bacteria, on the other hand, has also led to a lack of antibiotics. antibiotics that can fight these bacteria, plus pharmaceutical companies are not interested in investing in research and development of new antibiotics that are effective against the threatening superbugs known as the ESKAPE group in hospital settings.

Of particular interest to evolutionary genomics researchers are two clinically important bacteria: Staphylococcus aureus and Acinetobacter baumanniithey obtained samples from hospitals in Mexico City.

Dr. Gonzalez chose to study phages that target these bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus and Acinetobacter baumannii) because they are opportunistic and pose a threat to hospitalized patients.

of Staphylococcus aureus Explain that it is commonly found in the throat, nose and skin and does not cause harm. However, in hospitals, it can affect patients and colonize places it shouldn’t be, such as the heart, intestines, and can cause sepsis.

He warned: “It has also been found in patients with heart valves and prostheses because it has several properties that make it highly toxic and can stick to surfaces and form a film that prevents antibiotics from being effective. penetration.”

Special attention is devoted to Acinetobacter baumannii The hospital environment, because it is dangerous and flexible, is the origin of sepsis, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, meningitis and even endocarditis.

It defines that the goal of phage therapy is to find the most suitable therapeutic phage to attack bacteria that are multi-resistant to antibiotics and to combat them when antibiotics are no longer available to eliminate them and no other therapeutic resources are available.

He predicts, “There is no doubt that in a few years we will be able to have some products derived from phages that can be used in personalized medicine and that can be effective against bacterial infections that antibiotics cannot fight.”

He noted that bacteria can also become resistant to phages because their cell walls can mutate, preventing them from penetrating. So instead of just one, you should use a “cocktail” of two, three or more to ensure that if it’s resistant to one, there’s another to destroy it.

It also calls for recognition that antimicrobial resistance is a serious problem with no single solution: “Much preventive work must be done to apply antimicrobials in a rational and complementary manner with other strategies (such as phage strategies), To be effective. There are no isolated solutions, but we must move forward, starting with prevention, which is in everyone’s hands.”

antimicrobial resistance

• It is estimated that drug-resistant bacteria cause approximately 700,000 deaths worldwide each year.

• By 2050, the number of deaths due to antibiotic resistance could reach approximately 10 million per year.

• More than half of the world’s antibiotics are improperly prescribed, distributed and sold, with an estimated 80% of countries selling antibiotics without a prescription.

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