Antibacterial viruses could help fight antimicrobial resistance, shows study

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Anti-bacterial viruses could be a potential solution to the global problem of growing antibiotic resistance, shows a new research.

Presented at the annual meeting of American Society for Nutrition, in Boston, the study shows that such viruses, called bacteriophages, reduced the level of bacteria that cause gastrointestinal problems in people, without causing side-effects and affecting the friendly microbes in the gut.

Funded by a firm Deerland Enzymes and spanned over 10 weeks, the study had 32 participants who were divided into two groups of patients suffering from gastrointestinal problems. While one group was given a placebo capsule, the other was given a capsule containing four Bacteriophage strains expected to attack E coli (a bacterium usually found in the gut).

After 2 weeks, both the groups exchanged the capsules. Neither the groups nor the researchers were aware which capsules were given to whom.

Dr Taylor Wallace of George Mason University, Virginia, who presented the result of the study at the meeting said that the researchers observed a drop in the levels of a protein linked to inflammation and allergic response in those who were administered the “phages”, The Guardian reported.

The new study is expected to be helpful in developing an alternative to antibiotics, considering the resistance these microbes have built over the years. Moreover, as antibiotics wipe out both the good and bad bacteria from the body, phages only target the particular bacteria that has caused the infection, thus being much more effective.

Antibiotic resistance — which refers to the ability of bacteria to change themselves and stop modern drugs from working against them — could make previously curable infectious diseases to become untreatable and spread throughout the world, according to the World Health Organisation.

The problem is already causing tens of thousands of deaths each year, in most parts of the world.

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