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06-2022

Israeli scientists have created a ‘precision weapon’ made of viruses to kill bacteria that damage the bowel

Israeli researchers are aiming to create a “precision weapon” made from bacteria-fighting viruses to combat intestinal diseases. Phase 1 clinical studies of two different virus “cocktails” have been conducted; Preliminary findings suggest that they are safe, and in vitro and animal testing sufficiently shows that they are antibacterial.

According to peer-reviewed research published in the journal Cell, the virus significantly reduced the amount of Klebsiella pneumoniae, a bacterium that is prevalent in the guts of people with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Phage therapy, also known as bacteriophage therapy, is not a recent concept and was the subject of extensive research in the early 20th century. Antibiotics were developed, and efforts to employ the virus in clinical settings were abandoned before any notable achievement, but researchers continued to use the phages in experimental settings.

Interest in potential phage therapeutics has recently increased, due to concerns about microbes that are resistant to antibiotics. Although none of the phage treatments are in common use, some researchers have speculated that they may offer a solution to the issue. Researchers looked into the microbiomes of people with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis to determine which bacteria would be beneficial to fight as part of the Weizmann study.

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Phages will now undergo more clinical testing to determine whether they can fight bacteria and improve health in a practical environment. The Weizmann researchers want to turn them into drugs that either treat Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis or perhaps even stop them in people who are believed to have high levels of Klebsiella pneumoniae.

(with inputs from agencies)

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