Scientists from the University of Southern Denmark have made an interesting discovery that may help in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The research team has identified five novel virus species that were not known earlier to the scientific community. The finding may offer new treatment strategies against deadly infections as the virus species discovered can kill resistant bacteria.
Viruses are the most abundantly found microbes on the earth and may be seen in various microbial ecosystems, finding these in any sort of environment is not surprising. The researchers were astonished to find five new virus species that emerged unexpectedly in the neighboring creep.
From the five newly emerged virus species, the genome of one species, “Fyn8,” has undergone genome sequencing, which has been published in the academic journal Microbiology Resource Announcements. Fyn8 is one of many viruses that are bacteriophages (phages) or that kill bacteria. Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria can be attacked and eliminated by them.
P. aeruginosa is a bacterium that lives naturally in soil and water. Generally, it does not infect healthy people, but like many other antibiotic-resistant bacteria, it has also developed resistance and can be found in hospital settings. People with weaker immunity, for instance, patients with wounds (e.g., burn patients) and ventilator patients, are more likely to get an antibiotic-resistant infection from this bacterium.
Scientists are sure that Fyn8 can eliminate P. aeruginosa. Researchers’ visual inspection of the petri dishes revealed apparent holes inside the P. aeruginosa bacterial layer that had been invaded by Fyn8. Following the destruction of the bacterium, Fyn8 grew and moved on to assault the following target.
Understanding antibiotic resistance
Bacteria have evolved to become resistant to many of the drugs used to treat infections, causing antibiotic resistance to be a global problem. As a result, the infections that were easily treated earlier may now be life-threatening. Antibiotic resistance, according to the WHO, is one of the biggest global health issues worldwide.
The discovery is undoubtedly intriguing and prompts the question of whether phages can aid us in the fight against resistant bacteria, given that the world is currently experiencing a crisis of resistance in which more people will die from infection with resistant bacteria than from cancer.
Until recently, research in this field was scarce, with pharmaceutical corporations and university research institutions showing little excitement. Phages, on the other hand, have previously been used to treat diseases, mainly in Eastern European nations.
The discovery of the phages
In the early 1900s, scientists discovered phages when viral infections devastated their bacterial cultures. Despite their enormous promise, antibiotics finally surpassed phages as the most extensively utilized technique for treating bacterial infections.
Is the era of antibiotics over?
Antibiotics gained popularity because they were simpler to produce and utilize than phages, which were challenging to separate and administer. Furthermore, antibiotics could target various bacteria with a single dosage, but phages could only interact with one kind of bacterial species.
These days, creating individualized medical therapies for each patient is extremely straightforward. The first step is to identify the specific bacterial strain that is responsible for the patient’s sickness. After that, the patient can undergo tailored therapy with the right phage, thereby eliminating the particular bacteria. This approach can be used to successfully treat microbes that are resistant to every known antibiotic.
Using Bacteriophages or phages over antibiotics has several advantages:
- Highly targeted strategy: Phages are very selective in their activity and may target specific strains of bacteria, in contrast to antibiotics which can kill both good and harmful bacteria. Phages can therefore provide a more targeted approach to treating illnesses while limiting damage to beneficial microorganisms.
- Ability to evolve: In contrast to antibiotics, which generally have a static mode of action, phages may multiply swiftly to keep up with the emergence of bacterial resistance. Consequently, phages could have a higher chance of progressively maintaining their capacity to fight resistant bacteria.
- Fewer side effects: Phages are less likely to result in side effects that are frequently connected to antibiotics, such as allergic reactions and disruptions to the gut microbiome because they only target particular bacteria.
- Potential for personalized medicine: Phages may provide a patient-specific treatment plan because they can be modified to target particular bacterial strains.
- Widespread availability: Phages are extensively distributed in nature and are generally simple to isolate and cultivate, unlike certain antibiotics that are difficult and expensive to work with.
Implications for the Future
The discovery of the five new virus species offers a new strategy for combating bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. The recently discovered bacteriophages may be used to create cutting-edge treatments for deadly infections that were previously incurable, though the research is still in its early stages.
In order to fight antibiotic resistance, the discovery of new virus species is a significant step toward the development of personalized medicines. This discovery provides hope for the future as the medical community continues to struggle with the problems posed by antibiotic resistance. With further research and development, this recently discovered virus may be able to save countless lives by offering a new line of defense against deadly infections.
Dr. Tamanna Anwar is a Scientist and Co-founder of the Centre of Bioinformatics Research and Technology (CBIRT). She is a passionate bioinformatics scientist and a visionary entrepreneur. Dr. Tamanna has worked as a Young Scientist at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She has also worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. She has several scientific research publications in high-impact research journals. Her latest endeavor is the development of a platform that acts as a one-stop solution for all bioinformatics related information as well as developing a bioinformatics news portal to report cutting-edge bioinformatics breakthroughs.