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News and Media

Komo News, March 30, 2013
You Become Desperate: Obscure Therapy Saves Woman's Life
A local family got the worst possible news - an infection was taking over a young woman's body and she was close to death. The worst of it came about two years ago when two infections - MRSA and pseudomonas - settled in Rachel's lungs and wouldn't let go. They tried virtually every antibiotic available - but Rachel's infections were drug resistant. Doctors prepared the family for Rachel's death. From the first phage treatment that we did, the MRSA disappeared. And we'd been battling MRSA for almost three years, at the point we started this. And it was gone, says Rose George. The MRSA cleared up. Then the psuedomonas infection went away.

Dr. Tim Lu
Dr. Tim Lu - Biofilms and Phage Therapy

This 11 minute film is excerpted from an interview with Dr. Tim Lu, who is an expert in characterizing & eliminating biofilms with phage therapy. He offers some insightful ways to describe complex biofilms and their connection to antibiotic resistance.

The Virus that Cures (MP4)

With MRSA threatening to infect huge numbers of patients who make even short trips to the hospital, and the gradual increase in the number of bacteria that are resistant to all known antiobiotics, scientists are turning to new ways to conquer the killer bugs. The emergence of dangerous antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria is most prevalent in the USA where antibiotics are available over the counter and are often mishandled. Please note: this takes some time to download to your computer.

NPR April 4, 2008
Using 'Phage' Viruses to Help Fight Infection
At the Society for General Microbiology meeting in Edinburgh, researchers presented work on incorporating bacteriophages into dressings for wounds and cleaning materials used in hospitals. The scientists found a way to bind the phages to polymer particles, allowing the viruses to remain active for up to three weeks rather than breaking down after a few hours. The hope is that the phage-based approach will provide new weapons in the battle against dangerous bacteria.

SCIENCE - Vol 298 (www.sciencemag.com),  October 25, 2002
Stalin's Forgotten Cure  
Georgian doctors turned to a therapy virtually unknown in the West: they unleashed the bacteria's natural predators.  The PhageBioderm patches eliminated the infection and within a few weeks, the woodsmen were stable enough to go abroad for treatment to replace the lost skin. 

Corante, January 6, 2005
From Enemies to Friends
Bacteriophages are wickedly elegant in the way they find hosts and inject their DNA, which then hijacks the bacteria's cellular machinery to make new bacteriophages.

NewsWeek, December 6, 2005
Trapping the Superbug
As recently as the 1980s, doctors thought they had bacteria licked. But the microbes have bounced back with a vengeance, developing resistance to the strongest of antibiotics. A study released over the summer reports that 70 percent of infections acquired in hospitals—the hot zone for disease transmission—can defy at least one drug. And the problem is seeping out into the community. [...] Further down the line is the prospect of attacking bacteria with naturally occurring viruses known as phages. Phage therapy was practiced in the United States before antibiotics were developed 60 years ago, and it's still used in Poland and parts of the former Soviet Union.

NIH News, Sept 23, 2004
Scientists Discover Potential New Way to Control Drug-Resistant Bacteria
Based on an improved understanding of bacteriophages — viruses that infect bacteria — scientists reporting in the Sept. 23 issue of the journal Nature believe they have discovered a potential new way to control drug-resistant bacteria, an increasingly worrisome public health problem.

Science Magazine, May 2004
Phage offer a real alternative
Phage therapy was used extensively in the pre-antibiotic era when phage biology was poorly understood and before properly designed and randomized clinical trials had been undertaken for any medical intervention. This era nonetheless provided many proofs of concept fort the safety and efficacy of phage therapy. Then, as with many other areas of infections disease research, the advent of the antibiotic era brought clinical studies of phage therapy to an end, except in some states of the former Soviet Union where phage therapy continues to be used.

Nature Biotechnology,  February 12, 2004
Old Dogma, New Tricks - 21st Century Phage Therapy
A US government document released in 2000 warned of a "growing menace to all people". The reference was not to terrorism or foreign dictators, but to the increasing prevalence of antibiotic-resistant microbes.

PLoS Biology, February, 2004
New Antibiotics - Resistance Is Futile
By next summer, more than 40% of Streptococcus pneumoniae strains in the United States will resist both penicillin and erythromycin, according to a recent prediction from the Harvard School of Public Health. The forecast, based on mathematical modeling, was published in the spring of 2003. It's too early to tell whether that prediction is precisely on track, according to the senior author on that paper, Marc Lipsitch. But no one doubts that multidrug resistance in this common bug—responsible for diseases that range from sinus trouble and ear infections to meningitis and pneumonia—is speeding up.

December 9, 2003
Germs that Fight Germs
When Alavidze tested them in her lab, she found not one, but five types of bacteria — strep, staph, pseudomonas, enterococcus and E. coli. The phage therapy would not be easy, she realized, and there was a chance it might not eliminate the infection. She would have to create a phage cocktail to target all the bacteria. It would take her four months. “He had very, very resistant strains,” says Alavidze, “so it took long time to isolate phages. We make it personally for Kevin. And when finally we test, in 18 hours phages kill Kevin’s bacteria — strep, staph, enterococcus — all of them.”

Business World,  Monday, November 17, 2003 
The Virus that Heals
There aren't too many companies that put their money on viruses. But this one has -- and it could well be on its way to global leadership.

Wired Magazine, October, 2003
How Ravenous Soviet Viruses Will Save the World
Between mid-'92 and mid-'94, vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus, or VRE, infected 75 patients, killing 6. A random sampling in fall '93 found that 20 percent of patients had VRE in their bloodstream. People were dying, and there was nothing anyone could do about it.

Die Zeit, September 9, 2003
Master Bacteria Eater
Whenever Nodar Daniela shows up in the ward of the Medical University in Hanover, it means emergency. Then bacteria have once again taken control. Often you can even smell their dominance. “Proteus bacteria really stink” says the doctor who after 30 years at the microbiological front is on “social terms” with the germs.  Daniela tells about a former patient that reeked like a swamp while trying to fight off a multitude of bacteria. The 27yr old had burned his upper body. Daniela shows a picture: spread-out red wound islands and purulent heads in rimply skin. It is a view that is hard to bear for an outsider but all too common for a doctor.

Science Magazine, June 2003
The prospect for bacteriophage therapy in Western medicine
The ability for phage to replicate exponentially and kill pathogenic strains of bacteria indicates that they should play a vital role in our armamentarium for the treatment of infectious diseases.

ScienCentral News, June 3, 2003
E. coli Killer
Strains of the E. coli bacteria are responsible for some of the worst food poisoning epidemics in recent history. But as this ScienCentral News video reports, scientists may have found its natural predator, a bacteria-eating virus. These days, the word “virus” brings to mind illnesses like SARS. But scientists have discovered that a virus called a phage could actually prevent you from getting sick.  “A phage is a virus that specifically infects bacteria and kills them, but it has no effect on humans,” explains Andrew Brabban, a microbiologist at Evergreen State College.  He and fellow microbiologist Betty Kutter found that a phage called CEV-1 kills most harmful strains of E. coli bacteria right at the source of the problem, in the intestines of livestock.

BBC News, April 23, 2003
Virus used to kill food bug
Sheep carry a virus which could be harnessed to kill the E.coli food poisoning bug.   The discovery could help eradicate E.coli 0157 in farm animals, reducing the chance of humans becoming infected with the bug through the food chain.

CBS 48 Hours, April 9, 2003
Silent Killers: Scary Superbugs
Two years ago, Bobbie Mackeon got a paper cut. She thought it was no big deal.  But it got infected. Bobbie, a nurse practitioner, spoke with the doctors at her hospital, and they all figured an antibiotic would take care of it.  It didn’t. Nor did the next two antibiotics she tried. “The bug that was in there was eating these antibiotics for breakfast,” she says.

CBS 48 Hours, April 9, 2003
Silent Killers: Fantastic Phages?
After breaking his foot five years ago, Toronto bass player Alfred Gertler got an infection that antibiotics couldn’t cure. Doctors told him he might have to have his foot amputated.  But then he read about a radically different way to treat infections. The treatment was in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, at the Eliava Institute in Tbilisi.  “It was very strange. But it seemed like a lifeline,” he says. So he went. “They had no heat, no electrical power, no water for much of the day,” says Gertler.  What Eliava did have was treatment that worked. They poured an ointment in the wound and within three days, the infection was gone.

JAMA, December 24, 2003,  January 29, 2004
Set a Microbe to Kill a Microbe
My father requested the phage and administered it to my mother.  She became afebrile in about 48 hours and was cured. The concept is fairly simple: a bacteriophage virus targets specific bacteria, usually a specific bacteria strain, ignoring other bacteria, as well as non-bacteria cells.

Wired News, January 2003
West Recruits Bacteria Assassins
Bacteria-eating viruses could be the answer to antibiotic resistance, and the first treatment to use the therapy could be available by 2004.  "They basically don't cut off feet because of diabetic ulcers in Georgia because their staph phage works so well," said Elizabeth Kutter, referring to the fact that such infections often lead to amputations in the West. Kutter is the director bacteriophage research at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.

LATimes.com,  April 22, 2002
The Virus as a Tool of Medicine
They are many times smaller than a bacterium, yet can easily reduce one to rubble.

Apples for Health, March 23, 2001
Viruses May Be Answer To Resistant Germs
A new approach for killing streptococci bacteria may offer promise for combating many bacteria, including those which have developed antibiotic resistance.

WebMD, March 21, 2001
An Alternative to Antibiotics
While antibiotics still remain the mainstay for treating bacterial infections, researchers may have found a whole new way of treating infections. And this is very good news, as many strains of bacteria have become increasingly resistant to the antibiotics that used to wipe them out.

Lancet, October 21, 2000
As antibiotic-resistant bacteria continue to threaten standard therapies against bacterial infections, a new breed of antimicrobials may, according to this story, be on the horizon. The story says that many researchers believe that bacteriophages‹viruses that only infect bacteria‹are a promising potential therapy for bacterial disease treatment.

Sunday Magazine,  Sunday, November 26, 2000
Cocktail that Cures 
How far away are we from a return to the time die from sore throats?

Smithsonian Magazine, October, 2000
Return of the Phage
Modern medicine could be set back to its pre-antibiotic days,” Alexander Sulakvelidze, who runs the lab, says from behind a lab bench piled high with agar dishes of bacteria. In 1998 the professor of medicine cofounded a Baltimore company called Intralytix to manufacture phages. “All the advances that we take such pride in, from transplants to chemotherapy,” he says, “may become impossible when bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics.

Science News Online, June 3, 2000
Viruses that Slay Bacteria Draw New Interest
"You can be dead within 24 hours," says Paul A. Gulig of the University of Florida College of Medicine in Gainesville. Seeking a treatment that works faster than antibiotics do, he and his colleagues recently isolated a bacteria-killing virus, or bacteriophage, that targets V. vulnificus and can prevent the deaths of mice infected with it.

New York Times, February 6, 2000
A Stalinist Antibiotic Alternative
''I'm convinced that bacteriophages will work,'' says Carl Merril, chief of the biochemical genetics laboratory at the National Institutes of Health. ''But there's the psychological obstacle of a new treatment coming from the former Soviet Union. It's unusual, to say the least.''

Scoop News, NZ, 21 October, 1999
Where Communism Succeeded
The programme revealed that we - ie humankind - had discovered a superior cure (to antibiotics) for bacterial infections around the same time that penicillin was being discovered. The research programme on bacteriophages (phages for short) began in Stalin's Georgia in the 1930s. To this day, our knowledge of each of the many thousands of phage viruses remains concentrated in a now rundown laboratory in Tbilisi, Georgia. The arrival of capitalism in the Caucuses threatens a repository of knowledge, built up over 50 years, that could prevent the superbug pandemic that threatens us all next century.

Biotecnology and Development Monitor, September 1999
Bacteriophages: An alternative to antibiotics?
Bacterial resistance to antibiotics has become a serious medical problem. Treatment with bacteriophages might pose an effective alternative that has long been known but has been ignored outside the former Soviet Union. The development of phage therapies exemplifies positive as well as negative implications for scientific development that is restricted in its access to the mainstream, English-language dominated scientific community.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 1996
Smaller Fleas ... ad infinitum: Therapeutic bacteriophage redux
Joshua Lederberg, a Nobel laureate and leading authority on infectious diseases, helped rekindle U.S. interest in phages. In 1996, he wrote a commentary in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences urging, in light of rising resistance to antibiotics, “a renaissance of study of bacteriophages.”

Evergreen State College, Olympia, Washington, USA
Phage Therapy
Bacteria resistant to most or all available antibiotics are causing increasingly serious problems, raising widespread fears of returning to a pre-antibiotic era of untreatable infections and epidemics. Despite intensive work by drug companies, no new classes of antibiotics have been found in the last 30 years. There are hopes that the newfound ability to sequence entire microbial genomes and to determine the molecular bases of pathogenicity will open new avenues for treating infectious disease, but other approaches are also being sought with increasing fervor. One result is a renewed interest in the possibilities of bacteriophage therapy -- the harnessing of a specific kind of viruses that attack only bacteria to kill pathogenic microorganisms.