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Genetically-engineered viruses to attack drug-resistant HCAI's

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Genetically-engineered viruses that can can attack drug-resistant HCAI's are being tested in the US.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston combined the new 'bacteriophage' viruses with three major classes of antibiotics: quinolones, beta-lactams and aminoglyclosides.

Mice treated with antibiotics and the engineered viruses had an 80% survival rate; with natural bacteriophages and antibiotics seeing a rate of 50%; and for antibiotics alone, just 20%.

Reporting in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr Timothy Lu writes that 'this lays the groundwork for the development of a library of bacteriophages, each designed to attack different bacterial targets'.

They were designed to target a DNA repair system that allows the bacteria to survive antibiotics. The virus overcomes bacterial defences and prevents resistence from developing.

In 2007, Dr Lu and colleague Professor James Collins engineered a virus that can destroy surface 'biofilms' of harmful bacteria on industrial and medical devices.

The viruses may be used in food processing plants, hospitals or other settings where disease-causing bacteria accumulate.

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