The WORLD PHAGE WEEK commences on the 22nd October with WORLD PHAGE DAY, created to celebrate the collaborative work of everyone pioneering the development of phage therapy. The date was also chosen to mark the 1877 birthdate of Frederick Twort, a British microbiologist, the father of virology, who in 1915, published the first report of viruses that infect bacteria, replicate there and kill the cells. Sadly the outbreak of the first world war suspended his research funding and he served as a medical officer during the war.
World Phage Week aims to increase awareness of the long-overlooked phage and encourage public dialogue on the potential benefit of investing in phage research. Phages could offer one response to the increasing threat posed by antimicrobial resistance - an area of critical importance to human, animal and environmental health. Phage researchers around the world, working on different microbial communities are encouraged to join us and promote the message of the life-saving potential of phage therapies.
The Phage Pioneers - Twort-d’Herelle Phenomenon
Frederick Twort published his pioneering work, ‘An Investigation on the Nature of Ultra-Microscopic Viruses’ in the Lancet. It was the first report of viruses that infect bacteria, replicate there and kill the cells. Sadly the First World War and absence of funding interrupted further development by Twort.
The second scientist credited with the discovery of the phage, Felix d’Herelle, continued gathering evidence for successful application of phages and published his work in 1917. He named the bacteria-eating virus ‘bacteriophage’ - now usually referred to as ‘phage’. The combined ground-breaking work of both phage pioneers was recognised as the ‘Twort-d’Herelle phenomenon’.
For an excellent History of Bacteriophages visit http://www.intralytix.com/index.php?page=hist
A phage is a virus that infects and replicates within a specific bacterium.
The term bacteriophage is derived from "bacteria" and the Greek: (phagein), "to devour". A specific class of viruses able to infect and destroy bacteria, they are among the most common and diverse entities in the biosphere. Fortunately phages offer no threat to humans.
Before the discovery of penicillin in 1928, phage therapy was tried extensively in the West in the 1920s and 1930s. Despite the desperate clinical battle against infections in the pre-antibiotic era, phage therapy was largely undeveloped by the time penicillin was made widely available in the 1940s. The easy to use and highly effective broad spectrum penicillin antibiotic became known as the 'miracle drug' - saving millions of lives. Interest in further development of phage treatment waned and phage therapy was largely neglected.
However, phage therapy continued being developed and used for over 90 years as an alternative to antibiotics and a treatment of choice in the former Soviet Union and Central Europe, as well as in France. The increasing global threat posed by antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is now propelling renewed Western interest in bacteriophages.
World Phage Week is an opportunity to recognise the important pioneering work of the Twort-d’Herelle phenomenon and to spotlight current pioneers of phage research and development.
The theme of the Inaugural World Phage Day and World Phage Week 2019 is ‘The Phage: the natural enemy of Bacteria’.
The aim is to increase awareness and understanding of antibiotic resistance and the urgent need to find alternative therapeutics as our antibiotics are failing to combat superbugs causing deadly drug-resistant infections. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is increasing at a frightening rate and is being described as a 'ticking time bomb' that poses an "apocalyptic" threat to public health. AMR is one of the most serious and growing risks posed to human health and development worldwide. It is a global problem that must be tackled on a global basis as there is no safe harbour. If we fail to combat AMR it is predicted that by 2050, drug-resistant infections could kill more than 10 million people worldwide every year. As our 'last line' antibiotics are beginning to be ineffective against multi-drug resistant bacteria, belatedly there is realisation that there are no new antibiotics in the pipeline.
This global phage initiative was devised by phage phan, Pida Ripley, founder of CombatAMR.org, an independent global resource site on antimicrobial resistance, AMR.
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