Before the lab work of Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch in the late 1800’s it was common for people to believe in something that is known as Spontaneous Generation. The Spontaneous Generation theorised that some force can create living organisms from inanimate objects. Needless to say this was wrong.
People such as Ignaz Semmelweis and Joseph Lister noticed that hygiene and cleanliness drastically improved people’s chances of surviving surgery. It wasn’t until Germ Theory and the consequent work done to expand on it, that we realised it was these tiny little organisms that at that point had been seen not as the cause of disease but rather a consequence.
Ever since then research had been done on micro-organisms and on how to control them. This led into the discovery of Penicillin, however accidental its discovery. At the time this was being touted as a miracle cure and in some ways this was correct. Antibiotics have accelerated modern medicine to what we have today. Medical techniques such as suppressing the immune system in transplants would never have been viable were it not for Antibiotics.
However it was not long since the first use of penicillin that we had the first reported case of drug resistance. This issue was further put into perspective when the Shigella outbreak occurred in Japan in 1953. When the outbreak was being investigated by scientists a strain was found that was resistant to Streptomycin, Chloramphenicol and Tetracycline. Ever since then we have known that Bacteria can develop resistance to multiple antibiotics.
No new Antibiotic medicines have been developed in a frequency to keep up with these new strains in the past 30 years or so while the antibiotics that we do have are slowly but surely not working anymore. In an interview for the Guardian newspaper in 2010, Professor Timothy Walsh estimated 10 years from then when antibiotics would be ineffective. The situation is getting more serious, so much so that the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) felt the need to publish a 114 page PDF file on it.
There is now a need for new ways of treating infections. One way that scientists are looking for an alternative is by exploring the potential of bacteriophages. Bacteriophages are viruses which infect bacteria. The effects of bacteriophages were first observed by Frederick Twort and Felix D’Herelle in 1915 and 1917. But it wasn’t really understood until 1939 when it was observed under an electron microscope.
Although they have been around for a long time, because of the development of antibiotics, they have largely been ignored by western nation. The old Soviet Union kept it in use and somewhat researched. Today, bacteriophages are only used in Georgia.
As with most things in Microbiology and Genetics, most tests are performed on E-coli bacteria. In this case however it is due to wide variety of E-coli bacteria and bacteriophages available in the human colon. It is suspected that bacteriophages are the driving force of microbial...