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Can viruses kill other diseases ?

FARRLARR at .isu.edu FARRLARR at .isu.edu
Tue Aug 29 10:23:14 EST 1995

linehan at ceph.cephb.fr (Paul Linehan) wrote:
> I think that in the 20's or thereabouts people had just that idea, i.e. that
> bacteriophage (bacteria infecting viruses) should be able to eliminate
> bacterial disease. Unfortunately this turned out not to be true.
> Why, wild guess.... bacteriophages are designed to get around bacterial defence
> mechanisms, not those of mamallian hosts.
> Nice try!
In fact,the basis for Sinclair Lewis' novel "Arrowsmith" was the
search for phages to combat disease, in that particular case, plague.
Twort's (1915) and d'Herrele's (1917) first reports on phages caused 
a lot of excitement.  Considerable research was done on the use of
phages for treatment of bacterial infections during the 1920's and 
early 1930's but it quickly became obvious that phages are very good 
antigens and the human body produces antibody that would seriously 
interfere with a second injection of the same phage for treatment.  
In addition, many phages do not survive passage through the gut so 
ingestion of phages, which was often attempted, does not work all 
that great.  

However, there was still some research going on in the early 1980's on
phage therapy.  A group at Houghton Poulty Research Station in 
England published a paper (sorry, reference not easily at hand) on
use of phage to treat bacterially-caused diarrhea in calves, lambs and
piglets.  They found that it worked better than antibiotic treatment. 
I have not heard anything since then. 
Larry D. Farrell, Ph.D.
Professor of Microbiology
Idaho State University

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