Phages Fight Bacteria (broadcast Friday, April 4th, 2008)

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This image depicts the structure of the T4 virus, one type of bacteriophage. Frederick A. Eiserling/UCLA and Petr Leiman/Purdue Department of Biological

In the days before modern antibiotics, some researchers saw bacteriophages, viruses that can seek out and destroy bacteria, as a promising candidate for fighting infections. Now, as more organisms develop resistance to existing antibiotics, phage research is finding new favor.

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 such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). In this segment, Ira and guests talk about bacteriophages and their place in modern medicine. Teachers, find more information about using Science Friday as a classroom resource in the Kids' Connection.

Guests

Alexander Sulakvelidze
Vice-President, Research and Development
Chief Scientist
Intralytix, Inc.
Baltimore, Maryland

Thomas Hausler
Author: "Viruses vs. Superbugs: A Solution to the Antibiotics Crisis," (Macmillan, 2007)
Science Reporter, Swiss Public Radio
Basel, Switzerland

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Segment produced by:Annette Heist

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