Best Life: Bacteria eating virus

Published: Dec. 20, 2022 at 7:29 AM CST
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SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – It takes 10 years and $1 billion for a company to bring a new antibiotic to market, but bacteria are constantly evolving and can become resistant to those new drugs within a few years, or even just a few months.

One solution may be bacterial killers that change. They are called Phage, and they are giving thousands of people a chance of living life without pain, without drugs, and without deadly bacteria.

Greg Breed barely remembers a time he wasn’t in pain from an anti-drug resistant E-coli infection in his prostate.

“For the last two years of my life, I basically was on IV antibiotics almost year-round,” he said.

“Bacteria definitely are very smart and definitely have multiple ways of overcoming antibiotics that we use to kill them,” said UCSD infectious disease specialist, Saima Aslam, MBBS, MS.

Aslam connected with a team at Baylor College of Medicine who’s working on a highly personalized solution using bacteria-eating viruses to kill these bacteria.

“What we try to do is generate viruses, they’re called Phage, that are killers, specific killers of bad bacteria,” said Baylor College of Medicine molecular virologist, Anthony William Maresso, Ph.D.

“They are not going to infect human cells,” said Austin Terwilliger, Ph.D., a researcher at Baylor College of Medicine.

Researchers at Baylor test each patient’s virus against a library of Phage in their lab.

If one of these kills the bacteria, then infusions are made and sent back to the patient’s doctor.

The entire process can take a few weeks to a year. UCSD has treated 19 patients with phage therapy. Eighty percent are infection-free for the first time in a long time.

“This was their end-of-the-road treatment option, and to have that success rate is really encouraging,” said Aslam.

“They have labeled me as a success story now,” said Breed.

He can now do the things he loves with the people he loves pain-free and medication-free.

The CDC estimates that nearly three million antibiotic-resistant infections occur in the United States each year.

Thirty-five thousand people will die from one. Participating patients in the study qualify under the FDA’s Compassionate Use Provision, which allows early testing of investigational drugs for life-threatening conditions when no other therapy works.

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer & Editor.

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