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Cambridge river yields viruses to beat bacteria

Cambridge river yields viruses to beat bacteria
3rd September 2007

Viruses found in a picture-perfect Cambridge river could generate the next wave of antibiotics, scientists said today.

Experts speaking at the Society for General Microbiology's 161st Meeting at the University of Edinburgh said that infections could be treated using viruses which target specific bacteria.

These viruses, which are called phages, do not disturb the normal microbial balance in the body.

The scientists examined a close relative of the E.coli bacterium called Citrobacter rodentium, which has exactly the same gastrointestinal effects in mice. They were able to treat the infected mice with a blend of phages obtained from the River Cam.

Ana Toribio, from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton, Cambridgeshire, said: "The more we can develop the treatment and understand the obstacles encountered in using this method to treat gut infections, the more likely we are to maximise its chance of success in the long term.

She added: "We have found that using a variety of phages to treat one disease has many benefits over just using one phage type to attack a dangerous strain of bacteria, overcoming any potential resistance to the phage from bacterial mutations."

The meeting runs from September 3rd to 6th.