Antibiotics have been observed to be unable to adapt to bacteria that has acquired resistant genes. As a result, new types of antibiotics must be created constantly but eventually those will become nonfunctional as well. On the other hand, bacteriophages evolve alongside the bacteria they attack due to the manner in which they destroy them. In the event of new bacterial strains, the bacteriophage will adapt to deal with that issue. (Pirisi, 2000) This rules out the hindrance caused by the development of resistance and the polyclonal nature of infectious diseases. With more research and trials, bacteriophage therapy has the capabilities to surpass antibiotics as a more efficient and reliable form of treatment for bacterial infections.
A Brief History of Bacteriophage Therapy
The history of the discovery of bacteriophages like many things is steeped in controversy over who found it first. Generally, it is accepted that British bacteriologist Ernest Hanbury Hankin was one of the first to identify the virus. In British India and many other ancient civilizations, it was believed that some rivers bore the ability to miraculously heal diseases--notoriously, leprosy. In 1896, Hankin identified antibacterial activity against Vibrio cholerae (cholera) in the Ganges and Jumna rivers. He found through his study of the mysterious substance only that it was antibacterial, was able to pass through thin porcelain filters, was heat labile (meaning it could be changed or destroyed at high temperatures), and was the primary reason that cholera epidemics had been limited in that region. (Adhya & Merril, 2006) Nearly two decades later, in 1915, another British bacteriologist named Frederick Twort also identified bacteriophage in his research. Twort had been trying to find a nonpathogenic virus that would allow vaccinia (virus is the active constituent of the vaccine that eradicated smallpox) to grow in vitro, without being infected by Staphylococcus. In his experiments, Twort cultured large bacterial colonies of the smallpox vaccines and he found small areas that simply would not grow. He realized that this was because the bacterial cells had been completely destroyed in those sites. As Twort experimented further with this substance, he developed three hypotheses about the agent. It was either a stage in the bacterial life cycle, an enzyme secreted by the bacteria itself, or a virus that grew on and eventually destroyed the bacteria. He called it the “bacteriolytic agent”. Unfortunately, his work was interrupted and forgotten as a result of the outbreak of the First World War.
A few years later, French-Canadian microbiologist Felix d’Herelle independently identified the substance at the Institut Pasteur in Paris. (Alavidze, Morris, & Sulakvelidze, 2001)He proclaimed the discovery of "an invisible, antagonistic microbe of the dysentery bacillus" on September 3, 1917. "In a flash I had understood: what caused my clear spots was in fact an invisible microbe […] a...