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.
Related article: Scottish hospitals get steam cleaners to fight HCAI's
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