Bacteriophages in Medicine
Andrzej Górski, Jan Borysowski, Ryszard Międzybrodzki, and Beata Weber-Dąbrowska
from: Bacteriophage: Genetics and Molecular Biology (Edited by: Stephen Mc Grath and Douwe van Sinderen). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2007)
Bacteriophages, or phages, are viruses of bacteria. Thus, by their very nature, they can be considered as potential antibacterial agents. Over the past decade or two, the idea of phage therapy, i.e. the use of lytic bacteriophages for both the prophylaxis and the treatment of bacterial infections, has gained special significance in view of a dramatic rise in the prevalence of highly antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains paralleled by the withdrawal of the pharmaceutical industry from research into new antibiotics. As an alternative to "classic" phage therapy, in which whole viable phage particles are used, one can also employ bacteriophage-encoded lysis-inducing proteins, either as recombinant proteins or as lead structures for the development of novel antibiotics. Two additional, rather less-recognized potential medical applications of phages are the treatment of viral infections and their use as immunizing agents in diagnosing and monitoring patients with immunodeficiences. We also discuss very interesting novel findings demonstrating the immunomodulatory activity of bacteriophages, suggestive of a potential role of endogenous phages in maintaining the homeostasis of the immune system read more ...