The Study of Bacteriophages in Antibiotic Research and Why They May be the Next Major Scientific Breakthrough

Bacteriophages, which are viral infections that reproduce to target and kill bacteria, were studied in Eastern Europe during the 1950’s by countries which did not have access to western medicine, including antibiotics. In 1 milliliter of sea water, billions of phages are present, with countless different varieties. Phages have tendril like appendages which are used to probe and identify hosts, clinging onto them, then forcing its own deoxyribonucleic acid down into the bacterial host. When this genetic code is introduced, it destroys the bacteria as a direct result. This leads to a chain reaction as hundreds more are produced each time this instance occurs, copies which then fledge out and find hosts of their own, building populations exponentially and wiping out bacterial infections completely. Bacteriophages were found prior to chemical antibiotics but when Penicillin was discovered, because it is so easy to develop and administer, chemical antibiotics became the clear path of choice in medicine with scientists not realizing the severity of this error until decades later. Antibiotics are often broad spectrum which is another reason antibiotic research overshadowed bacteriophagic research as different phages affect different bacteria and are therefore not broad spectrum. Because phages are self-replicating like bacteria, they have the ability to completely annihilate all bacteria presented before them in the same way that bacteria have the ability to totally annihilate their own host as well. Because of this, bacterial infections can be knocked out with 100% efficacy in all cases, regardless of the severity of the the infection, provided the correct phage is alotted enough time to do so. This is a task antibiotics often struggle to achieve and even if achieved, cannot be guaranteed in perpetuity as reinfection or resistance can occur at any time

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