Germ-eating microbes could help beat antibiotic resistance

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Published: February 4, 2020 3:30:19 AM

It is only since the past decade or so the likes of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency are putting serious funding into such research.

But, growing resistance to antibiotics and other anti-microbials poses perhaps the toughest challenge to global health today. (Representative image)But, growing resistance to antibiotics and other anti-microbials poses perhaps the toughest challenge to global health today. (Representative image)

One frontier of fighting disease today is employing one microbe to fight the other. To be sure, microbes have long played a part in fighting morbidity—indeed, what would modern medicine be without antibiotics. But, growing resistance to antibiotics and other anti-microbials poses perhaps the toughest challenge to global health today. Against such a backdrop, medical research is looking, once again, at microbes for answers. It is only since the past decade or so the likes of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency are putting serious funding into such research.

Some of the findings on microbes killing micorbes is quite promising, even though therapeutic usage might be some distance away. Scientists have talked about the potential of some deadly pathogens, harnessed in controlled situations or via genetic engineering, for fighting cancer. Last year, the US FDA allowed the first clinical trial of phage therapy—bacteriohage viruses are used to kill bacteria—and this has unofficially been around for almost over a century! Lab studies show some of the microbes can actually be a one-stop shop of sorts—Bdellovibrio, a germ-eating bacteria, can prey upon 145 of 168 human pathogens that it was tested for.

Given how the antibiotic development pipeline seems to have run dry and resistance to the existing ones is galloping, using microbes against each other in controlled situations could be the ticket to recovery and cure in the future.

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