Bacteriophages are naturally-occurring viruses that can infect and kill bacteria. They are remarkably diverse, numerous and widespread. Each phage has a narrow host range yet a large majority of bacteria studied so far play host to bacteriophages, hence the remarkable phage diversity. Phages were discovered just over 100 years ago and they have been used for treatment of bacterial infections in humans and other animals since the 1920s. While infecting bacterial host, they promote bacteria destruction, holding therefore a highly efficient antimicrobial activity. During the past years, bacteriophages have been applied and used as valuable tool in microbiological diagnostics and basic research. Even though the potential of bacteriophages for fighting bacterial pathogens is known for a long time, the phage therapy is not used in daily routine worldwide. Due to the continuing spread of bacterial resistance to antimicrobials and an increasing awareness of the necessity to protect consumers' health, the phage therapy meanwhile has become a subject of major interest in veterinary medicine, too. This article begins with a description of bacteriophages and explains why there has recently been a strong interest in their clinical use for treatment of bacterial infections, particularly those caused by organisms resistant to multiple antimicrobial compounds.
Share this article