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Virus eats bacteria to save woman's life

A WOMAN on the verge of dying from an antibiotic-resistant superbug has been saved by injecting her with a virus that attacked the lethal bacteria but left her own cells untouched.

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.