Antibiotics VS Bacteriophages: alternative or hope?

It would seem that quite recently the world applauded the discovery of Alexander Fleming. Less than a century has passed since the “royal” gift to the whole ailing world, first penicillin, and then a multivariate series of antibiotic drugs. Then, in 1929, it seemed that now – now humanity will defeat the ailments that torment it. And there was something to worry about. Cholera, typhus, tuberculosis, pneumonia attacked mercilessly and carried away with the same ruthlessness both hard workers, and the brightest minds of advanced science, and exalted artists … History of antibiotics. A. Fleming discovered the antibiotic effect of fungi and, continuing research, laid the foundation for the so-called “antibiotic” era. Dozens of scientists and doctors picked up the baton, which resulted in the creation of the first antibacterial drugs available to “ordinary” medicine. It was 1939. Streptocide production has been launched at the AKRIKHIN plant. And, I must say, surprisingly on time. The troubled times of World War II loomed ahead. Then, in the military field hospitals, thanks to antibiotics, not one thousand lives were saved. Yes, the epidemiological turbidity has cleared up in civilian life. In a word, humanity began to fall asleep much calmer – at least the bacterial enemy was defeated. Then a lot of antibiotics will be released. As it turned out, despite the ideality of the clinical picture, the drugs have a clear minus – they cease to act over time. Professionals call this phenomenon bacterial resistance, or simply addiction. Even A. Fleming was cautious on this topic, over time observing in his test tubes the persistently increasing survival rate of bacterial bacilli in the company of penicillin. However, it was too early to worry. Antibiotics were stamped, new generations were invented, more aggressive, more resistant … And the world was no longer ready to return to the primitive epidemic waves. Yet in the yard of the XX century – man is exploring space! The era of antibiotics grew stronger, pushing aside terrible ailments – the bacteria also did not sleep, changed and acquired more and more immunity to their enemies, enclosed in ampoules and pills. In the midst of the “antibiotic” era, it became clear that this fertile source, alas, is not eternal. Now scientists are forced to scream about their imminent impotence. The latest generation of antibacterial drugs has been produced and is still operating – the strongest, capable of overcoming very complex ailments. There is no need to talk about side effects – this is not a discussed sacrificial duty. Pharmacologists seem to have exhausted their entire resource, and it may turn out that new antibiotics will have nowhere to appear. The last generation of drugs was born back in the 70s of the last century, and now all attempts to synthesize something new are games with a rearrangement of terms. And so famous. And the unknown, it seems, no longer exist. At the scientific and practical conference “Safe Protection of Children from Infections” dated June 4, 2012, where leading clinicians, microbiologists and representatives of the pharmaceutical industry took part, a cry was thrown that there was catastrophically no time left to sit on the old antibacterial methods. And the illiterate use of available antibiotics by pediatricians and the parents themselves – drugs are sold without a prescription and at the “first sneeze” – reduces this time exponentially. It is possible to solve the task set by the edge in at least two obvious ways – to look for new opportunities in the field of antibiotics and work to regulate the use of a depleting reserve, on the one hand, and on the other, to look for alternative ways. And then a very curious thing pops up. Bacteriophages. Shortly before the onset of the “antibiotic” era with all its consequences, scientists obtained revolutionary data on the antibacterial activity of phages. In 1917, French-Canadian scientist F. D’Herelle officially discovered bacteriophages, but even earlier, our compatriot N.F. Gamaleya in 1898 for the first time observed and described the destruction of harmful bacteria by the opposite “agent”. In a word, the world got acquainted with bacteriophages – microorganisms that literally feed on bacteria. Many praises on this topic were sung, bacteriophages took pride of place in the biological system, opening the eyes of scientists at the beginning of the century to many hitherto unknown processes. They made a lot of noise in medicine. After all, it is obvious that since bacteriophages eat bacteria, it means that diseases can be treated by planting a colony of phages into a weakened organism. Let them graze themselves… So in fact it was… Until the minds of scientists switched to the field of antibiotics that appeared. The paradox of history, alas, to the question “Why?” does not give an answer. The sphere of antibiotics developed by leaps and bounds and walked across the planet with every minute, pushing aside interest in phages. Gradually, they began to be forgotten, production was curtailed, and the remaining crumbs of scientists — adherents — were ridiculed. Needless to say, in the West, and especially in America, where they did not really have time to deal with bacteriophages, they disowned them with all their hands, taking antibiotics. And in our country, as it happened more than once, they took a foreign model for truth. The rebuke: “If America is not engaged in bacteriophages, then we should not waste time” sounded like sentences to a promising scientific direction. Now, when a real crisis has matured in medicine and microbiology, threatening, according to those gathered at the conference, to soon throw us not even into the “pre-antibiotic” era, but into the “post-antibiotic” one, there is a need to make decisions quickly. One can only guess how terrible life is in a world where antibiotics have become powerless, because thanks to the growing addiction of bacteria, even the most “standard” diseases are now much more difficult, and the threshold of many of them is invincibly younger, undermining the immunity of many nations already in infancy. The price for Fleming’s discovery turned out to be prohibitively high, coupled with interest accrued over a hundred years … Our country, as one of the most developed in the field of microbiology and the most developed in the field of bacteriophage research, has retained encouraging reserves. While the rest of the developed world was forgetting phages, we somehow preserved and even increased our knowledge about them. A curious thing came out. Bacteriophages are natural “antagonists” of bacteria. In truth, wise nature took care of all living things at its very dawn. Bacteriophages exist exactly as long as their food exists – bacteria, and, therefore, from the very beginning from the creation of the world. Therefore, this couple – phages – bacteria – had time to get used to each other and bring the mechanism of antagonistic existence to perfection. bacteriophage mechanism. Observing bacteriophages, scientists have found surprising and the way this interaction. A bacteriophage is sensitive only to its own bacterium, which is as unique as it is. This microorganism, resembling a spider with a large head, lands on a bacterium, pierces its walls, penetrates inside and multiplies there up to 1000 of the same bacteriophages. They physically rupture the bacterial cell and have to look for a new one. And it happens in just minutes. As soon as the “food” ends, bacteriophages in a constant (and maximum) amount leave the body that has sheltered harmful bacteria. No side effects, no unexpected effects. Worked accurately and in the truest sense of the point! Well, if we now judge logically, bacteriophages are scientists the most likely and most importantly natural alternative to the work of antibiotics. Realizing this, scientists are expanding their research and learning to get more and more new bacteriophages suitable for certain types of bacterial strains. To date, many diseases caused by staphylococci, streptococci, dysentery and Klebsiella bacilli are successfully treated with bacteriophages. This process takes much less time than a similar antibiotic course, and most importantly, scientists emphasize, is a return to nature. No violence on the body and hostile “chemistry”. Bacteriophages are shown even to babies and expectant mothers – and this audience is the most delicate. Phages are compatible with any drug “company”, including the same antibiotics and, by the way, differ in hundreds of times slower resistance. Yes, and in general, these “guys” have been doing their job smoothly and amicably for many thousands of years, preventing bacteria from destroying all the stomach on our planet. And it would not be bad for a person to pay attention to this. Question for thought. But, there are pitfalls in this encouraging direction. The qualitative dissemination of the idea of ​​using bacteriophages is hampered by the low awareness of physicians “in the field”. While the inhabitants of the scientific Olympus are working for the good of the health of the nation, their more mundane counterparts are for the most part neither dream nor spirit aware of new opportunities. Someone simply does not want to delve into the new and it is easier to follow the already “hackneyed” treatment regimens, someone likes the selling position of enrichment from the turnover of much more expensive antibiotics. Mass advertising and the availability of antibacterial drugs completely pushes the average woman to buy an antibiotic in a pharmacy bypassing the pediatrician’s office. And most importantly, is it worth talking about antibiotics in animal husbandry … Meat products are stuffed with them, like a cupcake with raisins. So, by eating such meat, we consume an antibiotic mass that undermines our personal immunity and affects global bacterial resistance. So, bacteriophages – lesser friends – open up remarkable opportunities for far-sighted and literate people. However, in order to become a true panacea, they must not repeat the mistake of antibiotics – go out of control into an incompetent mass. Marina Kozhevnikova.  

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