Bacteriophage Therapy

Satisfactory Essays
Bacteriophage Therapy

Matthew Bardales
Doctor Butela
Microbiology Lecture
April 23, 2014

Bacteriophages, also known as phages, are obligate intracellular parasites that utilize the metabolic pathways of bacteria to reproduce. Phages are viruses with a very specific host range, consisting of either DNA or RNA as the nucleic acid (Mayer). Many experiments were conducted in the 1920s in the United States and abroad to test bacteriophages as a form of disease control. The discovery of antibiotics resulted in the abandonment of phage research because of the ability of antibiotics to affect multiple bacteria. Bacteriophages that can kill bacteria have a strong lytic cycle. This lytic cycle will eventual result in the destruction of the bacteria in order for the new phages to escape from the cell. Bacteriophages kill the bacteria they infect, which would help an individual fight off a disease (Carlton).
There are four major stages of development in the lytic cycle for a bacteriophage. The first step is the attachment of the bacteriophage to the outside coat of an appropriate bacterium. This attachment phase is accomplished by chemical reactions between the phage and the host bacterium. The phage is then absorbed into the bacterium and the nucleic acid is transferred to the bacterium. Then the bacteriophage hijacks the biochemical metabolism of the bacterium in order to produce various parts of new bacteriophages. The various parts of the bacteriophage assemble into new phages and then the bacterium is lysed so that the new phages can escape. This lyses stage effectively kills the bacterium (Phage).
The development of antibiotic resistant bacteria has renewed interest in bacteriophage...

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...cteria, it cannot be changed or altered to regain effectiveness. It would be much easier and less costly for pharmacologists to mutate an already known strain of a bacteriophage than find a new antibiotic. If phage technology against disease became common, we would not see the lack of research in the field of controlling microbes.
Right now, it is much more profitable for drug companies to find medications that treat diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease rather than invest in the process of finding a new antibiotic. Companies would be much more willing to mutate an already known phage. This would prevent the antibacterial crisis that is occurring in hospitals now. Unfortunately, resistant bacteria are evolving faster than companies can find and produce new antibiotics. A new method of bacterial control is necessary to continue to fight of nosocomial infections.
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