The May 27 news article “ ‘Nightmare,’ antibiotic-resistant bacteria reach U.S.” about a “superbug” reported that the end of the road for antibiotic effectiveness is approaching.
Since the discovery of penicillin in 1928, antibiotics have been extremely effective at treating and preventing a variety of infections. But over time, microbes have learned to resist the drugs either by acquiring resistance genes or by mutating. In many cases, antibiotics are becoming obsolete, now including colistin, reported as the “antibiotic of last resort.”
The scientific community must do something, but what can be done? Bacteriophages, or “phages” for short, may be able to help.
Certain phage proteins cause bacteria to die. Researchers are working to determine whether these proteins or whole phages can be safely converted into therapies to combat specific bacteria-based diseases. However, the current path to develop phage therapy through to regulatory approval is unclear.
In the face of antibiotic resistance in the United States and around the world, it is important to understand our alternatives and what must be done to advance alternative treatments, research to confirm safety and efficacy and a practical path to bring phage therapy to market.