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      CommentAuthorSpiraltwist
    • CommentTimeApr 14th 2008 edited
     (1779.1)


    Researchers have discovered a way to keep bacteria-killing viruses alive for weeks; when placed in wound dressings, they can kill bacteria that try to infect patients.

    Bacteria-killing viruses, or bacteriophages, attack bacteria in the same way as the creatures in the movie Aliens. The virus invades a bacterium, uses it as a material to create copies of itself, and then explode outward to infect other bacteria. Researchers at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland have found a way to bind these ordinarily short-lived viruses to polymer microbeads.

    The microbeads can be built into sutures and wound dressings, and kept alive there and active for up to three weeks. Once inplanted in a patient, the bacteriophages look for harmful bacteria like MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphlococcus aureus), much-feared bacterium that is proving very difficult to treat with traditional antibiotics.

    The bacteriophage viruses attack the superbugs, and kill them Alien-style. The bacteriophages are not harmful to human beings.

    The prototype bacteriophage devices for detection and decontamination have been shown to clear MRSA infected surfaces such as tiles and cotton, with the bacteriophages successfully killing 96% of the MRSA strains isolated from patients in three different hospitals in the UK and USA


    Link.

    Shared this with my Prof, who recieved a award recently for his work with MSRA.
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      CommentAuthorJoe Paoli
    • CommentTimeApr 14th 2008
     (1779.2)
    Nice. Always good news to hear about using nature to combat nature to our advantage.
  1.  (1779.3)
    Damn. Thanks for this, it's fucking brilliant inspiration for my comic Witch Doctor.

    I knew there are lots of viruses that prey on bacteria (an average quart of surface ocean water contains 10 billion viruses, most of which target bacteria), but using them like that never occurred to me. Fascinating.
    • CommentAuthorFlabyo
    • CommentTimeApr 15th 2008
     (1779.4)
    I do remember reading something several years ago that suggested we should be trying to phase out antibiotics in favour of 'phages, and as someone that's highly allergic to both penicillin and amoxcillin this can't come soon enough for me...
  2.  (1779.5)
    Haven't Russian researchers favored bacteriophages over antibiotics for awhile?

    This is so cool. War on a microscopic level. I love that they look like little atom bombs.
  3.  (1779.6)
    We can never have enough weapons.
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      CommentAuthorJoe Paoli
    • CommentTimeApr 15th 2008
     (1779.7)
    @Brendan McGinley
    Haven't Russian researchers favored bacteriophages over antibiotics for awhile?
    I think so, but I probably think so from reading fiction. Whatever I read said that not having large pharmaceutical budgets, they'd literally just experiment with stuff they could filter out of buckets of water. I remember being amazed that this actually was a viable approach to science, and it was my first introduction to the word phage (not counting an episode of Voyager, which really didn't explain what one was.).
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      CommentAuthorRabbit
    • CommentTimeApr 15th 2008
     (1779.8)
    Now this is nifty! I take it the bacteriophages don't have the same problem as antibiotics, in that bacteria can't (as easily anyways) become resistant to them?
  4.  (1779.9)
    I take it the bacteriophages don't have the same problem as antibiotics, in that bacteria can't (as easily anyways) become resistant to them?

    Yes, close enough without getting all detailed.
  5.  (1779.10)
    I take it the bacteriophages don't have the same problem as antibiotics, in that bacteria can't (as easily anyways) become resistant to them?

    Viruses adapt the same way bacteria do, so what this means is we have a way to fight bacteria that will evolve along with it. Plus we've got human intervention in the design of the virus, which is something the bacteria don't have,
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeApr 15th 2008
     (1779.11)
    The Russians take a blood sample from people treated successfully with phages and culture the phages from their blood.

    They mix strains of phage from several different people suffering from the same disease to treat future cases of that disease.

    So, the phage mutates and adapts along with the pathogen.
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      CommentAuthorRabbit
    • CommentTimeApr 15th 2008
     (1779.12)
    I figured it had to be something along those lines; like Flabyo said, they could probably start phasing out antibiotics for the most part as their effectiveness wanes over time anyways. It's about time they started building a better mousetrap so to speak.

    However, as cool as the science part is, I'm not sure the Aliens reference makes me entirely comfortable towards something that might be injected into my body.
  6.  (1779.13)
    However, as cool as the science part is, I'm not sure the Aliens reference makes me entirely comfortable towards something that might be injected into my body.

    The Aliens reference is kind of crap journalism. Lots of viruses (all of them?) end up exploding the cells they've hijacked to make more of themselves. It's not like a virus is bursting through the bacteria's chest or something.
  7.  (1779.14)
    This is so neat! Brain food, as it were. Thank you. As someone that comes from hippie parents, I've long been concerned with the adaptation of viruses to our medicines. This is a very interesting alternative.
  8.  (1779.15)
    I've long been concerned with the adaptation of viruses to our medicines

    It's the bacteria you should be worried about, not the viruses. We don't take antibiotics for viruses, and that's what's putting the most selection pressure on germs...
    • CommentAuthorZeebo
    • CommentTimeApr 19th 2008
     (1779.16)
    Sounds awesome as an outgrowth of old Soviet techniques, but there are problems with this. Namely, phages can occasionally make errors in self-replication. When this happens, they have a chance of incorporating host bacterial DNA rather than their own. This includes resistance genes. So, while the technology may kill 96% of the bacteria, those other 4% can become a brood pit for multiple resistances or toxin production.