Since the discovery of the first antibiotic – penicillin – antibiotics have been heralded as the ‘silver bullets’ of medicine. They have saved countless lives and impacted on the well-being of humanity. This was beautifully illustrated in Michel Mosley’s TV series Pain Pus and Poison this week. But less than a century following their discovery, the future impact of antibiotics is dwindling at a pace that no one anticipated, with more and more bacteria out-smarting and ‘out-evolving’ these miracle drugs. This has re-energised the search for new treatments, such as phages. The key advantage of using phages over antibiotics lies in their specificity. A phage will infect and kill only a specific strain/species of bacteria. This is particularly important when treating conditions like C. difficile infections.
Phage infecting bacteria graphic from Russell Kightley Media