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Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Continuing My Non-Trendiness
For a few moments I thought I was being trendy by getting sick...until I realized that I got sick several weeks AFTER everyone else at work and at home. The antibiotics are starting to enter the system, however (not that it makes much difference; I bet half of these things aren't affected by antibiotics anyway).

In a semi-related topic which I don't really understand, apparently you can now use viruses to combat bacteria, or use bacteria to combat viruses, or something (courtesy Sunday Independent):

In a bid to tackle the growing problem of antibiotic resistance in hospitals, at least two British biotech firms are engaged in a race to come up with a novel solution. Both companies are also using a rather elderly technique - discovered during the First World War - but bringing it up to date with modern genetics.

The winner will be the first to market an antibacterial product containing a type of virus know as a "bacteriophage" - literally "bacteria eater" - which prey on bacteria. First discovered in 1917 by the Frenchman Felix d'Herelle, "phages" were used successfully to treat such conditions as infected wounds, ulcers, typhoid and cholera for about 20 years, but then, with the advent of antibiotics, they were forgotten in the West.

Now, however, phages are generating huge interest in research labs because, being alive, they are able to mutate, making it much harder for bacteria to develop resistance to them....

Something new is certainly needed. A few years ago the first original antibiotic compound for 35 years was introduced. Within two months, resistance to it had developed....

Each phage infects only a specific strain of bacteria, avoiding the carpet-bombing approach of antibiotics, which knock out friendly gut bacteria as well....

Although still fairly novel in the West, phages have long been used in Russia. Phage-impregnated bandages, for instance, were widely used by Soviet troops. One refugee from the main bacteriophage research and production lab in Georgia is now heading an American company called Intralytix. Recently, the company obtained the first licence for the commercial use of phages on animals to combat a bacterium called listeria, which contaminates food and can seriously affect pregnant women, newborns, and adults with weakened immune systems.

Phage-based treatments are still sold over the counter in some eastern European countries, their use supported by years of clinical experience, although little of it was supported by conventional clinical trials. The only detailed account of their use was published by the Polish Academy of Sciences, which summarised the effectiveness of phage therapy on 550 patients in 10 hospitals who were suffering from serious conditions such as septicaemia, abscesses, bronchopneumonia and fistulas. The reported recovery rate was 94 percent.

However, such reports cut little ice with British regulatory authorities, so the race is on to do the first clinical trial with humans using phages, not just in Britain but anywhere in the West....

Maybe you could arrange a mild case of SARS - that's still trendy, right?
Nah, that's so last year. The only thing trendy today is red and blue.
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