New bacteriophage discovered from Danish local creeks can address resistance crisis
February 25, 2023 | Biotechnology
Viruses are the world’s most pervasive organism and they thrive in all kinds of ecosystems. Students and researchers from the University of Southern Denmark (USD) serendipitously discovered Danish creeks, Odense Å and Lindved Å, containing previously unidentified species of a virus.
This unforeseen discovery of five potentially new species believed to be unknown to science was made during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Clare Kirkpatrick, associate professor at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at USD, and her students went on field trips to local creeks to find interesting microbes when they couldn’t perform their normal microbe studies in the laboratory.
Out of the five, one species has its genome fully mapped in genome sequencing and scientifically described. As published in Microbiology Resource Announcements, the species is named as Fyn8 and is undoubtedly classified as a bacteriophage, attacking and killing the bacteria called Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Researchers saw clear holes in the the petri dishes layered with Pseudomonas aeruginosa where Fyn8 had infected the bacterial cells.
Normally, Pseudomonas aeruginosa is harmless but it has developed resistance to antibiotics and is commonly found in hospitals. Seeing that we’re facing a resistance crisis, where people are likely to die more from an infection with a resistant bacteria than from cancer, findings on phages and the possibility of it treating infections are significant.
Benefits of discovery on phages are apparent. Still, antibiotics remain to be the widespread cure against bacterial infections for reasons that they are easier to produce and use, while phages are difficult to isolate and administer to patients. Moreover, an antibiotic dose could target many bacteria at once while phages can only match with a single bacteria species.
But with precision medicine being made available for the individual patient nowadays, treating the patient with the exact phage to kill the bacteria became relatively easy.