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Can viruses be our allies in fighting against deadly infectious bacteria?

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Kamal Saini
Kamal S. has been Journalist and Writer for Business, Hardware and Gadgets at Revyuh.com since 2018. He deals with B2b, Funding, Blockchain, Law, IT security, privacy, surveillance, digital self-defense and network policy. As part of his studies of political science, sociology and law, he researched the impact of technology on human coexistence. Email: kamal (at) revyuh (dot) com

There are times when viruses are against us, but they can also be our friends. When our treatments no longer work, viruses can help us fight off dangerous bacteria.

However, viruses do not cause new antibiotic resistance in bacteria. This was the outcome of an INRAE study, which was published in the journal ISME Communications.

Antibiotic resistance is becoming increasingly common in bacteria. Awareness initiatives have enhanced public awareness that the primary cause of antibiotic resistance is the high ‘selection pressure’ on bacteria caused by the widespread and inappropriate use of antibiotics in both humans and animals.

This, however, is not the only reason. Horizontal gene transfers, a collection of mechanisms in bacteria, are also implicated. Bacteria can exchange DNA material with one another. Some of the DNA material exchanged has no specific contribution, while others may confer antibiotic resistance. Understanding the ways by which resistance genes are conveyed could lead to the discovery of a new method of combating resistant microorganisms.

Over the last century, scientists have debated whether bacteriophages, particularly those utilized in phage therapy, are capable of transferring antibiotic resistance genes to bacteria. Despite the fact that a 2013 scientific research published in Nature discovered that bacteriophages may actually do so, this solution has not put the issue to rest.

The debate piqued the interest of a group of INRAE bacteriophage researchers. The scientists performed metagenomic research (whole-genome study) on bacteriophages from 14 farms’ pig feces. The researchers determined and analyzed the DNA of all these bacteriophages using in-depth computer studies and came to a clear conclusion: the bacteriophages analyzed do not include a single antibiotic resistance gene. As a result, they are unable to provide bacteria with resistance genes.

This study adds light on the topic of antibiotic resistance, which is a major public health concern. Through phage therapy, bacteriophages are still used as partners in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

This relatively new approach involves the use of bacteriophages on patients infected with viruses that are resistant to all antibiotics. Bacteriophages target and destroy resistant bacteria, with little chance of transmitting resistance genes onto other bacteria.

In the fight against the widespread issue of antibiotic resistance, the therapy provides hope.

Source: doi.org/10.1038/s43705-021-00054-8

Image Credit: Getty

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