Specific virus species prey on bacteria to clear diabetic foot ulcer infections

August 4, 2020

Bacteriophages (phages) are tiny viruses that infect and replicate inside bacteria. In the fight against bacterial infections so far, phages have been used as inhalable treatments for pneumonia, wrapping materials that kill foodborne bugs or, drinkable chasers to clear up food poisoning symptoms.

Most recently, scientists from Flinders University in Australia have used phages to treat a common strain of Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) that infects diabetic foot ulcers. S. aureus or the “golden Staph” is resistant to multiple drugs and infected and untreated wounds can result in amputation or even death in many people with diabetes.

For the study, the scientists mixed up a cocktail of three phages that attack the bacteria, then applied it as a topical solution to infected foot ulcers in mice. The scientists found that the phages effectively decreased the bacterial load and improved wound healing in in multi-drug resistant S. aureus infection.

“The next step in our research is to bind phages to a dressing to make a truly antibacterial dressing, with specific activity against golden Staph,” said Associate Professor Peter Speck.

“The technology exists to make such a dressing, with a big advantage being that bound phages remain viable for a year even when stored at room temperature, making this approach ideal for use in hospitals and clinics – even in rural and remote settings.”

The phage therapy could also take other forms besides topical treatments.


Category: Education, Features

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