Fight fire with fire

We have already talked about the use of microorganisms in the treatment of certain diseases. It’s time to delve into this topic and see how you can knock out a wedge with a wedge-get rid of one microorganism with the help of another.

It would be strange to miss such a promising opportunity, “presented” to us by nature, as the use of bacteriophages to fight bacteria that cause infectious diseases. Bacteriophages, like the vast majority of viruses, have a specific effect. In other words, they do not affect all bacteria in a row, but act indiscriminately, choosing a victim by special receptors-protein molecules that are located on the cell membrane. This specificity can be used to treat bacterial infectious diseases-to use bacteriophages instead of antibiotics, figuratively speaking “to knock out a wedge with a wedge”.

Scientists have long been working in this direction. Bacteriophages tried to use in medicine long before the advent of antibiotics. Yes-long before the emergence of! The first antibiotic penicillin was first used to treat bacterial infection in 1941, and, for example, in the Soviet Union since 1923 there was an Institute of bacteriophages, founded in Tbilisi by the famous Georgian microbiologist Georgi Eliava.

The effectiveness of bacteriophages was not in doubt, but this action itself was not stable.

First, bacteriophages-living beings (or conditionally living, it’s as you like). And all living things are relatively unstable and subject to many factors. The inanimate is affected by far fewer factors, that is, the inanimate is less sensitive than the living. As a result, the same dose of bacteriophages in different cases (in the organisms of different people) acts differently. And if certain reactions of the drug can be predicted on the basis of its chemical properties, it is absolutely impossible to foresee all the factors that in the body of a given person can inactivate (suppress) this bacteriophage. Physiology is a delicate matter.

Secondly, the production of a “live” biological drug is very difficult. The active agent (bacteriophage) must be viable and as clean as possible, cleared of any accompanying biological “garbage”. And cleaning is very difficult, because you can use only “delicate” methods that will not kill, will not destroy the bacteriophage.

Thirdly, the storage of a” live ” biological drug is also not an easy matter. Slightly that not so – “living” drug becomes “dead”, bacteriophages are destroyed.

There are other problems, but the above is enough to understand why with the advent of antibiotics about the “therapeutic” bacteriophages for a long time forgotten. Especially considering that at first antibiotics seemed to be a panacea, a universal and all-healing remedy. And then, when it turned out that microorganisms develop resistance to antibiotics and that the “panacea” in some cases is more harm than good, the scientific search was directed towards the creation of new, more powerful and less allergenic antibiotics. It is only recently that science has again “turned its face” to bacteriophages. It turned out that bacteriophages have some advantages over antibiotics.

Cell membranes of some bacteria are particularly strong. Figuratively, you can call them “armored”. This is due to the increased content of muramine, a polysaccharide similar in structure and properties, including strength, to cellulose. The vast majority of antibiotics are not able to make their way into the cell through the muramine armor, but bacteriophages do it easily.

Bacteriophages are highly specific, that is, they act on specific bacteria. With their help it is possible to destroy infectious agents, without causing concomitant death of useful microflora.

Bacteriophages easily penetrate from the blood (and lymph) into tissues. Bacteria are almost impossible to hide from them.

Bacteriophages have no side effects, because, except for their “targets”, nothing else is not interested in anything else does not act. There are cases when doctors simply do not know how to treat a patient with an infectious disease. To a number of antibiotics, the bacterium-agent has resistance, and to the one that can be used, the patient is allergic. Bacteriophage in this case will be very, very useful. The described cases of “Allergy” to bacteriophages are actually allergies to some impurity contained in the drug. This is prevented by thorough cleaning of the drug.

Since bacteriophages are only able to interact with target cells, they have no contraindications. What is a contraindication? The possibility of causing any harm to the drug. Bacteriophages harm only their “targets”.

Bacteriophages are self-replenishing drugs. Hitting their “targets”, bacteriophages multiply in them. The destruction of bacteria is accompanied by an increase in the number of bacteriophages. This is a very convenient property. A single introduction of bacteriophage into the body of a sick person may be enough to cure.

Having done their job – destroying the target bacteria, bacteriophages go into an inactive form of existence. All viruses are active only inside cells, outside cells it’s just nucleic acid in the protein envelope. Our immune cells gradually ” eat “not busy bacteriophages, forever in the body these “guests” do not remain.

And bacteriophages without problems combined with antibiotics…

In our time, the possibilities of studying bacteriophages and the production of drugs based on them are not the same as they were a hundred years ago, when the use of bacteriophages for the treatment of infectious diseases began. Back then, scientists didn’t even fully understand what they were dealing with. Some of the luminaries of science thought of the bacteriophages enzymes was such a thing. To produce a pure drug is also not particularly difficult, but, despite this, bacteriophages are recognized and used as a therapeutic agent is not in all countries. And where recognized and used, for example in Russia and Georgia, there are few drugs containing bacteriophages.

Why are such useful AIDS in the fight against bacteria recognized and used not everywhere?

Because in different countries, interest in” therapeutic ” bacteriophages resumed at different times. And in order to be able to use the drug for treatment, long-term clinical trials are needed. For each drug separately! Somewhere studies on a number of drugs have already been completed, and somewhere else none has been studied to the end. But prospects have “curative” bacteriophages there is, with good prospects.

However, the disadvantages of bacteriophages also have, and very significant.

Since bacteriophages are highly specific, before starting treatment of a sick person with a bacteriophage, it is necessary to isolate the pathogen from his body, make a sowing, wait for the appearance of a colony of bacteria and determine the bacteriophage acting on them. This takes some time, which is not always available to doctors. Antibiotics are easier – they have a much wider specialization. Work on the creation and implementation of accelerated research methods is underway, but it is not yet possible to get an answer, say, in an hour.

If the bacterium parasitizes inside the cells of the body, it becomes inaccessible to the bacteriophage. Inside the cell, the bacteriophage penetrates only if it finds on its membrane the corresponding receptor that turns the cell into a target. On the membrane of the cell in which the bacterium lives, there are no and can not be bacterial receptors, so bacteriophages pass by the bacteria sitting in the cells. Therefore, infectious diseases such as, for example, chlamydia or trachoma, it makes no sense to try to treat with bacteriophages (remember that the chlamydia that cause these diseases are intracellular parasites).

Why today there are few drugs containing bacteriophages? For example, in Russia they are produced about a dozen. That’s all!

Because the case is new and difficult. It is often not so easy to obtain a suitable strain [26] of natural bacteriophages affecting this particular bacterium. Genetic modification of bacteriophages, that is, the creation of the desired strain on the basis of the original through genetic engineering, is also very difficult. We can say that it is easier to synthesize a chemical that meets the specified requirements than to obtain the desired strain of viruses. Again, for the introduction of each drug into practice, studies are needed, and in the case of bacteriophages, they turn out to be very long, such is the specificity.

Scientists are actively working on the study of bacteriophages and the creation of new “live” drugs. Myth-makers also do not sit idly by – come up with new myths. Myths about bacteriophages.

Myth the first – about global conspiracy.

The widespread use of bacteriophages stopping the global conspiracy. Manufacturers of antibiotics, realizing that bacteriophages will deprive them of huge profits, United and strongly discourage both the study of the action of bacteriophages, and their introduction into medical practice. As you know, pharmaceutical companies have a lot of money, and therefore a lot of opportunities. Individual enthusiasts-scientists and humanists-doctors can not resist the world conspiracy of capitalists…

World conspiracy-very convenient pleasant thing. Attributed to him can be anything starting with “real” drugs to their own laziness. In fact, leading pharmaceutical companies invest heavily in bacteriophage research because “curative” bacteriophages have good prospects and because in our brutal and highly competitive world, the one who survives ahead of the rest. New drugs are new profits, not new losses. He who thinks otherwise will never succeed. Except in myth-making. Myth-making has its own laws, the more illogical and absurd the myth, the more popular it is.

In itself, a non-existent world conspiracy, we are not threatened with anything, except that a slight sadness-here, such bastards, spoil a good thing! But sadness, as we know, is fleeting… but indirectly, this myth can hit the purse, and even the health at the same time. Drugs, “banned” or “rejected” as a result of a global conspiracy, are produced by unknown people and it is unclear by whom they are sold. Not in the pharmacy chain, but through distributors. In the best case, you will get from these distributors useless “dummy”, which does not cure anything and does not act on anything at all. At worst ,the “drug” will be harmful to health.

How do you like the term “bacteriophage-based drug”? “Based”, please note! Can you understand what it is? If you are not able, then do not rush to write yourself down as ignorant and slow-witted. Even the leading virologists of the planet do not know this. And manufacturers, by the way, do not know either. They need to vparit gullible customers “something” under the guise of bacteriophage, but to write on the label “bacteriophage” scary-you can run into a lawsuit about cheating consumers. Here is and have come up with producers this vague “on the basis of bacteriophages.” And deception there is no formal, and trendy, the word “bacteriophage” on the label is present.

The second myth, which is much more dangerous than the first, is about the uselessness of antibiotics.

The logic is simple-drugs containing bacteriophages appeared because antibiotics do not cure anything. They are absolutely useless. Doctors prescribe antibiotics out of habit and also because they are bribed by manufacturers (the same “world conspiracy”, only inside out). Anyone who wants to cure an infectious disease should rely only on bacteriophages!

What happens as a result? Refusal to take antibiotics. Doctors prescribe them, and patients refuse them. Patients, by the way, have the right to refuse any research and any treatment, except compulsory treatment, carried out in psychiatric hospitals by court order. Do not want – and will not! That’s all. Perhaps, not need to to explain, that such recklessness can and until graves bring. Yes, bacteriophages have a series of advantages over antibiotics, but not in every case they shown. The range of bacteriophages can not be compared with the range of antibiotics, that is, not every infection can be overcome with the help of bacteriophages. In severe cases, when the treatment can not be delayed, doctors choose antibiotics. And so on… in Short, before you use the right to refuse the prescribed treatment, you need to “turn on the brain” (sorry for the harshness) and try to understand for what purpose this treatment was prescribed. If something is unclear, then do not dismiss it, and ask the doctor to explain the incomprehensible at an affordable level for you.

Myth the third-bacteriophages help always, without failures.

Why always? Yes, because bacteria have no protection against bacteriophages and develop resistance to bacteriophage is impossible. It’s still that resistance to bullets to work out. No matter how hard you try, it won’t work.

Well, so be it. Let’s say that in bacteria there is no defense against bacteriophages. Then answer a simple question – why in the course of evolution, aggressive bacteriophages did not destroy defenseless bacteria completely and completely? The man managed to destroy under “zero” a lot of types of helpless animals, starting with a Dodo and ending with the sea cow, and bacteriophages (at their matter and their rate of reproduction!) all raze not can to dispose with bacteria. Paradox?

Just do not answer, please, that bacteriophages deliberately do not destroy all bacteria, so that they have somewhere to live and reproduce. Viruses don’t have minds, and neither do environmental advisors. Look for another reason!

It won’t take long to find her. Bacteriophages are aggressive, persistent and well able to penetrate into cells, but bacteria are also not completely sewn. Evolution has taught them something, too, starting with the loss of receptors by which bacteriophages recognize targets, and ending with the production of enzymes that instantly “cut into pieces” any foreign nucleic acid that has penetrated into the bacterial cell from the outside. Not literally cut, of course, and figuratively-spend “chemical” splitting nucleic acid molecules into small, not dangerous, fragments. Protective mucus, which can be surrounded by colonies of bacteria, serves as a serious, and even insurmountable, obstacle for bacteriophages.

Therefore, if the bacteriophage selected for treatment was ineffective or does not work at all, it is necessary not to increase its dosage, but to think about the appointment of something else, that is, an antibiotic. Persistent desire to be treated only with bacteriophage and nothing else can lead to sad consequences. All this is written not for doctors (doctors and so should know it), but for patients. Appointed, for example, a doctor with acute tonsillitis bacteriophage-containing drug. The patient used it for two days, but there was no effect. Then the patient, instead of going to the doctor, arbitrarily increased the dose of the drug twice, a day later-twice more … a Familiar situation, is not it? Many people believe that the dosage of the drug can (and should!) change yourself. Like, it’s a doctor’s job to prescribe the right drug, to say what exactly I need, and how much I need, I’ll figure it out myself, my body will tell me.

The fourth myth is about the universality of bacteriophages, that is, that any bacteriophage can fight any bacterial infection.

Versatility often goes hand in hand with ignorance. The less we know about a subject, the more we tend to generalize. If knowledge about bacteriophages is limited to the phrase: “Bacteriophages are viruses that kill bacteria,” then it is quite possible to consider any bacteriophage as a means of treating any bacterial infection. And after all treated the same! And then tell, that helped-attribute arbitrarily chosen bacteriophage, which so and not found its “targets”, victory over infection, on fact won immune system organism.

On this with bacteriophages can say goodbye. Now you know all about them. Everything you need to know a person who is not a microbiologist or doctor.

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