“Set your phages to stun”

Engineered phage viruses show promise as targeted assassins – genetic manipulation might make it easier for them to gain regulatory approval

Many phage infect and replicate inside bacteria, killing them. This makes phages a possible alternative to antibiotics as resistance to these drugs grows. What’s more, most phages infect only one species or even a few strains within a species; antibiotics aren’t so selective.

But that specificity is a problem: it might not be clear which pathogenic bacterial strain is present in an infection, so a cocktail of several phages might be needed to guarantee effective treatment. Each may have to pass regulatory approval separately.

Timothy Lu and his colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology aim to get round this by making a single phage modifiable with bacteria-attacking machinery from other phages. In theory, that could reduce regulatory hold-ups.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.newscientist.com

Couldn’t resist that byline – it’s part of the article – so that I could get some mileage out of something mildly upsetting.

It’s just that someone else has yet AGAIN had my good idea before I did.

There I was, reading about and blogging on bacteria co-opting phage tail assemblies as weapons against other phages, and dreaming up ways of using them creatively – and someone else had gone and done it.

That is, used an engineered phage genome and presumably head structure with a variety of tail assemblies (which determine the binding specificity) in order to target as many bacterial types as possible.

Very clever!  It’s what may make phage therapy into a science instead of an art.

See on Scoop.itVirology News

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