Latest in Tomorrow

Image credit:

Gene-modified viruses rescue patient from drug-resistant 'superbug'

It's not a cure, but it could be close enough for many patients.
Share
Tweet
Share

Sponsored Links

KATERYNA KON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY via Getty Images

Doctors normally resort to bacteriophages (bacteria-killing viruses) to kill antibiotic-resistant "superbugs" only when they've run out of options, in part because it's difficult to find the ideal example. It can take months or more just to find a viable candidate. However, they might have a faster solution -- researchers have successfully used genetically modified viruses to treat a chronic, resistant infection in a teenage girl who otherwise faced a bleak prognosis following a lung transplant.

The team found three bacteriophages that could be useful (including one from a rotting eggplant) and modified them to maximize their ability to target and wipe out the bacteria strain. Once this was ready, they gave the teen twice-daily infusions as well as surface treatments on the skin lesions resulting from the infection.

The treatment didn't amount to a cure, but it did have dramatic (and likely life-saving) results. The infection has nearly vanished, according to NPR, and the teen is now healthy enough to resume a mostly normal life -- really, the main goal. There also weren't side effects.

It could be a long while before you see this kind of treatment happening on a regular basis. There's still more work to be done determining the efficacy of bacteriophages (gene-modified or otherwise) and whether or not they're truly safe to use. However, this hints that gene tweaking could one day tackle a variety of stubborn infections, providing a second chance for people who'd otherwise be resigned to a grim fate.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
Tweet
Share

Popular on Engadget

Roku is giving away 30 days of premium video

Roku is giving away 30 days of premium video

View
NASA warns Moon base plans might slip by a year

NASA warns Moon base plans might slip by a year

View
Lab-in-a-box test can detect COVID-19 in 5 minutes

Lab-in-a-box test can detect COVID-19 in 5 minutes

View
Google rolls out Drive shortcuts ahead of folder structure changes

Google rolls out Drive shortcuts ahead of folder structure changes

View
SpaceX launches its original Dragon capsule for the last time

SpaceX launches its original Dragon capsule for the last time

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr