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02 June 2024
Volume 6 · Issue 6


In this month's article, George Winter discusses how attention has been turning increasingly towards a natural antibacterial phenomenon that could influence the treatment of bacterial infections

The World Health Organization (WHO) has described antimicrobial resistance (AMR) as one of the top global public health and development threats, reporting that ‘bacterial AMR was directly responsible for 1.27 million global deaths in 2019 and contributed to 4.95 million deaths’ (WHO, 2023).

Given the ongoing nature of this worldwide threat, attention has been turning towards a natural antibacterial phenomenon that could influence the treatment of bacterial infections.

Bacteriophages, or phages, are naturally occurring obligate intracellular parasites of bacteria and were discovered independently in 1915 by British pathologist Frederick Twort, and in 1917 by French-Canadian microbiologist Félix d’Hérelle, with Twort describing a ‘glassy transformation’ of micrococci colonies, and d’Hérelle isolating what he termed an ‘anti-microbe’ of Shigella (Salmond and Fineran, 2015). In his first paper, d’Hérelle reported that the presence of phages correlated with disease clearance in patients with dysentery, and in a rabbit study he showed that phages conferred protection from infection with Shigella (Salmond and Fineran, 2015).

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