Virus eats bacteria to save woman's life
Steve Connor is the Science Editor of The Independent and i. He has won many awards for his journalism, including five-times winner of the prestigious British science writers’ award; the David Perlman Award of the American Geophysical Union; four times highly commended as specialist journalist of the year in the UK Press Awards; UK health journalist of the year and a special merit award of the European School of Oncology for his investigations into the tobacco industry. He has a degree in zoology from the University of Oxford and has a special interest in genetics and medical science, human evolution and origins, climate change and the environment.
Friday 17 September 1999
The treatment with a bacteriophage promises to become an alternative therapy to antibiotics, which are rapidly becoming useless as bacterial diseases develop resistance.
Martin Westwell, a research fellow in bio-medical sciences at Lincoln College, Oxford, said the woman was the first in the West to be cured with a bacteriophage. It was developed by Phage Therapeutics, a company based in Seattle.
"The woman was going to die. She had an antibiotic- resistant bacterial infection, so they used this phage virus therapy and it saved her life," Dr Westwell told the association.
Bacteriophages infect the bacterium in the same way as normal viruses but do not, as far as is known, affect human cells.
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