I just read an interesting article on Phage therapy. It is a way to naturally heal antibiotic resistant infections. The story follows a doctor in the US who searched for a way to help a patient and came across this idea used in Eastern Europe since the 1920’s. It had been used here in the states until the 40’s when the more convenient penicillin took over.
The phages virus is the most abundant naturally occurring organisms on earth. They can be found virtually everywhere-in soil, drinking water, sewage and in our bodies. As living organisms, phages are constantly changing and adapting in tandem with their host bacteria to kill them more effectively. Phage therapy could therefore eliminate the vicious cycle in which bacteria evolve resistance to antibiotics, necessitating the development of new, even more powerful drugs, at which point the process begins all over again.
The article goes to Georgia in Eastern Europe and talks about the Institute of Bacteriophage, Microbiology, and Virology, where Phages as a medicine is trusted like aspirin. Since the founding of the facility they have successfully treated millions of patients and have had over 100 research abstracts at international conferences attesting to its clinical value.
Each prescription produced at the facility was custom made for each patient.
Phages are species-specific—-different strains attack different bacteria. Since some wounds can harbor hundreds of different types of bacteria, physicians there first culture a tissue sample of the infection to determine its precise bacterial composition. The next step is to brew a custom cocktail of sometimes hundreds of phages selected from the institute's vast library of thousands. This whole process can take up to four days. The treatment—often administered through an IV bag that drips phage liquid directly into patients' wounds for 24 hours a day—can last up to two weeks.
The problem in the states now is strict, expensive fda standard for drug approval. And since each prescription is tailor made of hundreds of different species of the phage bacteria, out of thousands of strains, it would be extremely costly and almost impossible to have the hundreds of thousands of different combinations of prescriptions approved.
The other thing the FDA is worried about is that the virus is living and is constantly changing and evolving. This leaves the FDA with a big unknown of what could happen.
But the odd thing is that today in the US the phage virus has been approved for use, just not for humans as a drug. It has been approved for deli meats. You read that correctly. The article points out that Phage therapy is used on deli meats to keep them safe from bacterial contamination. The difference is merely technical, spraying a phage on a deli meat is called a food additive, while using it to heal people, is called a drug.
This last part is the funniest part for me. Its funny how semantics is what prevents people in the US to use the most effective drugs. I wonder what it would be called if I put the deli meat on my leg infection, food additive or drug? If we ingest the food additive it must be safe right? Well not necessarily. One of my first posts I talked about how shady the FDA is when I saw them answering questions on capitol hill. They were talking about how they allow beef to be sprayed with the same carbon monoxide that exits a cars exhaust. The same stuff that can kill you if you lock yourself in the garage and turn the engine on, is ok when its sprayed on our beef. But they admitted the don’t test it because semantically it falls in a category where no testing is required by law.
Check out the full article: