Today’s Solutions: May 22, 2022

We recently shared an article about a new technique to better treat infections and reduce the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, but as these superbugs become more common, we will need a multi-pronged public health response to the crisis. Another potential solution for this problem is viruses with bacteria fighting abilities. 

Bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacteria. They are actually the most abundant organism on Earth and their applications for fighting disease are not new. French microbiologist Félix d’Hérelle first used phages to treat patients with dysentery in 1919, but the treatment never became widely used in part because there is still a lot we do not know about harnessing the power of phages. 

The development of CRISPR has opened up new doors in phages research. The same gene editing technology can also be used to engineer phages to locate a specific bacteria and inject CRISPR proteins inside it to cut and destroy the microbes’ DNA. In one experiment with the bacteria Clostridioides difficile, the technique allowed researchers to successfully use phages to direct the bacteria’s own CRISPR proteins to shred its DNA. 

This new technology holds immense potential for the treatment of bacterial infections. Further development and deployment of phage therapies could protect our world from antibiotic-resistant bacteria and potentially even prepare us for the next pandemic.

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