Bacteriophages kill bacteria through different mechanisms than antibiotics, and they can target specific strains, making them an appealing option for potentially overcoming multidrug resistance. However, quickly finding and optimizing well-defined bacteriophages to use against a bacterial target is challenging.
In a new study, MIT biological engineers showed that they could rapidly program bacteriophages to kill different strains of E. coli by making mutations in a viral protein that binds to host cells. These engineered bacteriophages are also less likely to provoke resistance in bacteria, the researchers found.
News - Resistance - Health - Timothy - Lu
"As we're seeing in the news more and more now, bacterial resistance is continuing to evolve and is increasingly problematic for public health," says Timothy Lu, an MIT associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science and of biological engineering. "Phages represent a very different way of killing bacteria than antibiotics, which is complementary to antibiotics, rather than trying to replace them."
The researchers created several engineered phages that could kill E. coli grown in the lab. One of the newly created phages was also able to eliminate two E. coli strains that are resistant to naturally occurring phages from a skin infection in mice.
Lu - Author - Study - Oct - Issue
Lu is the senior author of the study, which appears in the Oct. 3 issue of Cell. MIT postdoc Kevin Yehl and former postdoc Sebastien Lemire are the lead authors of the paper.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved a handful of bacteriophages for killing harmful bacteria in food, but they have not been widely used to treat infections because finding naturally occurring phages that target the right kind of bacteria can be a difficult and time-consuming process.
Treatments - Lu - Lab - Scaffolds - Strains
To make such treatments easier to develop, Lu's lab has been working on engineered viral "scaffolds" that can be easily repurposed to target different bacterial strains or different resistance mechanisms.
"We think phages are a good...
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