May 16, 2019
A teenage patient at the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London has been the first person in the world to be treated with a genetically engineered virus. She was suffering from a bacterial infection that could not be cleared with traditional antibiotics, which was threatening her life.
The patient’s mother had read about a novel therapy option, phage therapy, which she mentioned to her daughter’s doctors. Phages are bacteria-killing viruses that have the potential to work when traditional antibiotics don’t. Her doctor reached out to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh who had access to phage viruses new to science.
These researchers were able to find three phages that were able to kill the type of bacteria that was making the patient ill. There was catch though, two of the phages could infect the bacteria, but didn’t efficiently kill them. Researchers were able to remove one gene from these phages, which made them effective in fighting the bacterial infection. This world first therapy was able to save the young patient’s life and points the way for further research into phage therapy.
Source: The Atlantic
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