Antibiotics have been used successfully to treat many bacterial infections such as pneumonia, strep throat and urine infections. They are without a doubt important in treating patients. However, antibiotics are not a cure all and are way over prescribed, often to treat viral infections.
Along come some pretty smart researchers who asked themselves: What about bacteriophages? In turns out that these little organisms have evolved over millennia to attack bacteria. In fact, there are literally trillions of them. They manage to consume about 50% of all bacteria every 2 or 3 days, which means they could blow away any human hot dog champion.
So why not use these tiny gluttons to selectively destroy bad bacteria? Well, there are some studies underway right now, which will determine if selective use of bacteriophages can treat certain animal infections. One company is trying them out in mastitis or udder infections in cows.
How do the researchers find the bacteriophages? Sewers are great places because quite a few bacteria and hence their nemeses bacteriophages hang out. Fortunately, with modern labs the researcher don’t literally have to sift through the sewage. When they find a promising candidate, they inoculate some of phages into a petri dish with say a certain kind of staphylococcus. If the staph doesn’t grow then those particular bugs are checked against another species of bacteria.
Eventually, human trials will begin. Whoever gets the job done first, expect huge stock gains . Why? Because antibiotics are becoming less useful and more dangerous, while infectious diseases still are very common. If bacteriophage treatment becomes accepted, many of the issues of antibiotic resistance, destruction of good bacteria and ground water antibiotic contamination will improve.