Bacteriophages Might Be Used to Help Reduce COVID-19 Deaths, Review Suggests

Bacteriophages (phages) are viruses that specifically attack and destroy bacteria. According to an expert at the University of Birmingham (UK) and the Cancer Registry of Norway, bacterophage could be harnessed to combat bacterial infections in patients whose immune systems have been weakened by the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the COVID-19 disease. These viruses are harmless to humans and can be used to target and eliminate specific bacteria. They are of interest to scientists as a potential alternative to antibiotic treatments. In a new systematic review, published in the journal PHAGE: Therapy, Applications, and Research, two strategies are proposed, where bacteriophages could be used to treat bacterial infections in some patients with COVID-19. In the first approach, bacteriophages would be used to target secondary bacterial infections in patients' respiratory systems. These secondary infections are a possible cause of the high mortality rate, particularly among elderly patients. The aim is to use the bacteriophages to reduce the number of bacteria and limit their spread, giving the patients' immune systems more time to produce antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. The open-access review article was published online on June 23, 2020, and is titled “Bacteriophages Could Be a Potential Game Changer in the Trajectory of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).” Marcin Wojewodzic, PhD, a Marie Skodowska-Curie Research Fellow in the School of Biosciences at the University of Birmingham and now a researcher at the Cancer Registry of Norway, is the author of the study. He says: "By introducing bacteriophages, it may be possible to buy precious time for the patients' immune systems and it also offers a different, or complementary strategy to the standard antibiotic therapies." Professor Martha R.J.
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