Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Superbugs and phage therapy

THE PROBLEM OF SUPERBUGS AND ANTIBIOTIC-RESISTANCE HAS BEEN ADEQUATELY DESCRIBED – WHAT WE NEED NOW ARE SOME SOLUTIONS. ONE SOLUTION IS USE PHAGE THERAPY WHEN ANTIBIOTICS FAIL. THIS COULD CURE PATIENTS, REDUCE COST AND FREE HOSPITAL BEDS! When it comes to antibiotic-resistant superbugs I think it is fair to note that we are dealing with a case of collective willful blindness since a cure for many such infections has existed longer than antibiotics have been used. In the book ‘Beyond Bullsh*t: Straight-Talk at Work’ (available at Ottawa public libraries) author and professor of management at the University of California, Samuel A. Culbert, introduces the concept of mokita meaning “the truth everyone knows but no one speaks. The mokita or paradox of the antibiotic-resistant superbug problem is that we have known how to treat some, perhaps even most, antibiotic-resistant superbug infections since before antibiotics have been used to treat bacterial infections. A recent BBC interview on phage therapy, as this medical treatment is known as, can be found at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p015cdyn/Health_Check_Bacteriophages/ - . For Canadians it should be of interest that it was the French-Canadian microbiologist, Felix D’Herelle, working at the Pasteur Institute, in 1917 who coined the name bacteriophage and experimented with the possibility of phage therapy – he subsequently worked all over world, including Russia, Tbilisi, Georgia, where his efforts survive to this day in the form of a Phage Therapy Center (http://www.phagetherapycenter.com ) that treats patients from all over the world. The Canadian film: Killer Cure: The Amazing Adventures of Bacteriophage and the book by Thomas Haeusler entitled, Viruses vs. Superbugs, a Solution to the Antibiotics Crisis? attest to d’Herelle’s work and both references are available at Ottawa libraries. Another video on phage therapy from Australia can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JG6dnOligeM . The tragedy is that we are too venal to deploy these weapons of mass-destruction for bacteria in our efforts to win some battles in the fight with pathogenic bacteria even as many Canadian patients suffer and die of antibiotic-resistant infections. I recently read a suggestion that the superbug problem is threatening the practice of medicine as we know it and that it should be considered as a threat for human civilization similar to terrorism and global warming and I would therefore suggest that Canada should establish 'The Superbug Victim Felix d'Herelle Memorial Center for Experimental Phage Therapy' to provide phage therapy to patients when antibiotics fail or when patients are allergic to antibiotics. It seems to me that the old American Embassy Building would be an excellent place for such a center as members of parliament would be able to monitor the work, remembering that superbugs do not discriminate! I have been active in this field for more than 10 years and it is now clear that other countries, such as the USA, are making progress much faster than Canada.