US: Bacteriophages: an old antibiotic alternative becomes new again
Food Safety News: The increasing global attention to the threat of antibiotic resistance has spurred research and development of antimicrobial alternatives. Once such alternative is bacteriophages.
Bacteriophages are viruses that infect and kill bacteria. There are thousands of different types and they are so abundant in the environment – an estimated 1030 live on the planet – that “we eat thousands of phages a day,” says Manan Sharma, a research microbiologist with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service.
After they were discovered in 1915, scientists tried to use them to treat diseases like cholera. But the discovery of powerful antibiotics caused phage therapy to be essentially abandoned. That interest has returned in the 21st century as antibiotic resistance increases.