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Bacteriophage treatment for superbugs shows promise

Antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections can be treated with bacteriophage therapy.

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Antibiotic-resistant ‘superbugs’ may be treated with Bacteriophages, a virus that infects and kills bacteria.

In a study published in Nature Communications, the researchers found that using a combination of bacteriophage therapy and antibiotics significantly improved the health of a 30-year-old patient who had suffered a fracture and contracted a pan-drug-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae infection.

This new study shows the potential of bacteriophage therapy for drug-resistant infections.

“Superbugs” are resistant to all commercially available antimicrobial medicines and pose a growing public health danger as treatment choices become more limited.

Using bacteriophages, a virus that infects and kills bacteria, could be another option.

Anas Eskenazi and colleagues describe the outcomes of a six-day course of bacteriophage therapy for a 30-year-old female bombing victim who had a fracture-related, pan-drug-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae infection for which antibiotic treatment had failed for nearly two years.

The authors chose and modified a bacteriophage for the patient’s strain of Klebsiella pneumoniae in order to achieve maximum efficiency in eliminating the bacteria.

This pre-adapted bacteriophage was administered in conjunction with antibiotics to treat the wound.

Three months later, the patient’s overall condition had improved, the wounds were healing, and there was no evidence of bacterial infection.

After three years of phage-antibiotic treatment, the patient regained mobility and could participate in sports.

Although this case study indicates the promise of bacteriophage therapy, the authors suggest that significant tailoring of treatment is likely required, making application to larger patient groups challenging.

Source: 10.1038/s41467-021-27656-z

Image Credit: Getty

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