Bacteria-eating viruses to aid in 'war on superbugs'

Posted by ap507 at Oct 17, 2013 08:55 AM |
Our researchers discover use for phages in fighting Clostridium difficile
Bacteria-eating viruses to aid in 'war on superbugs'

Clostridium difficile cell with flagella - Inset shows virus infecting cell

A specialist team of scientists from our Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation has isolated viruses that eat bacteria – called phages - to specifically target the highly infectious hospital superbug Clostridium difficile (C. diff).

Since the discovery of the first antibiotic - penicillin - antibiotics have been heralded as the ‘silver bullets’ of medicine. They have saved countless lives and impacted on the well-being of humanity.

But less than a century following their discovery, the future impact of antibiotics is dwindling at a pace that no one anticipated, with more and more bacteria out-smarting and ‘out-evolving’ these miracle drugs. This has re-energised the search for new treatments, such as phages.

The key advantage of using phages over antibiotics lies in their specificity. A phage will infect and kill only a specific strain/species of bacteria. This is particularly important when treating conditions like C. diff infections.

This exciting new collaboration between the University of Leicester, the University of Glasgow and AmpliPhi Biosciences Corporation could lead to the use of bacteriophages for treating the superbug Clostridium difficile infections.

The work has predominantly been funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC).

Listen to a podcast with Dr Martha Clokie here: