According to WHO, antibiotic-resistant bacteria pose one of the greatest threats to global health, food security, and development. An increasing number of bacterial infections in recent decades have become resistant to antibiotic drugs. As antibiotic becomes less effective in killing bacteria, this leads to a more extended hospital stay, higher medical cost, and increased mortality. Antibiotic resistance is making doctors challenging to treat infections and ability provide other types of treatment. According to health experts, current antibiotics are being overused, and their effectiveness is diminishing rapidly.
New drugs have dried up because pharmaceutical companies have little financial incentive to develop new ones. This is partly because most people only take antibiotics for a matter of days. Any new drug doctors would reserve as a treatment as the last option so that the efficacy can be preserved. The one way doctors enlist the help of phages, which invade bacteria and cellular machinery is hijacking by it to make copies of themselves. The bacteria is skilled in the process.
Phages are found in abundance on Earth and are known as biological entities. They keep bacteria in check and maintain a healthy balance between microorganisms. With the development of highly effective antibiotic drugs in the current decade, Phages therapy was lost. But in recent years, there has been a revival of interest as a possible way to address the growing threat of antibiotic resistance. The challenge that the researchers have to face is to recreate how Phages and their bacterial hosts behave in the human body in the laboratory.
When bacteria and Phages other grown in a flask by scientists, the bacteria evolve rapid genetic resistance to the viruses. A new study has found that in an environment that more closely resembles the nooks and crannies of the human body, bacteria do not develop genetic resistance to Phages. This indicates that even if bacteria survive in such places, Phages can prevent them from reaching dangerously high population densities. Leading health experts suggest that antibiotic resistance could prove a more excellent killer than Covid if new ways to fight infection are not found.
To mimic microenvironments, the researchers used microfluidics technology. This technology restricts access and movement. This technology allows microbiologists to introduce a single bacterium into a channel and then control and monitor its environment. The channel is about a thousandth of a millimeter in diameter. The cell is prevented from dividing rapidly to form a colony or move around freely because of the narrow space. The effect of Phages called T4 on Escherichia coli bacteria was compared by the researchers either in an open environment or confined to these narrow channels.
The researchers found that in an open environment bacteria population proliferated then crashed after Phages were introduced. The population later rebounded to its former level, which indicated that the bacteria had developed genetic resistance to the Phages. In the confined environment bacteria grew slowly; was not eliminated by phages. These bacteria survived not by developing genetic resistance gradually but by reducing the number of receptors in their cell walls. As a result of this, the population of bacteria is successfully controlled by the phages without wiping them out or promoting genetic resistance.