The old phrase “fighting fire with fire” comes to mind in regards to a recent finding by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Faculty of Medicine. The researchers found that sewage in Jerusalem could actually help eliminate infections after dental work.
In regards to the medical field “fighting fire with fire” this discovery comes on the heals of other recent studies showing signs that a modified form of the HIV virus can be repurposed and used to attack cancer cells. However, in this case, the method scientists used to fight infection was actually proposed last century and has only been revived due to the overuse of antibiotics which has lead to bacteria developing resistance to current antibiotics.
This therapy consists of infecting the patient with minuscule amounts of viruses known as bacteriophages. Researchers succeeded in isolating an anti-E. faecalis phage retrieved from a Jerusalem sewage treatment facility which can infect a strain resistant to vancomycin, an effective anti-E faecalis antibiotic. The information was put into use and proved to work well in root canal infection in both in vitro and ex vivo tissue samples. The genome of the bacteriophage does not contain harmful genes which may lead to widespread adoption.
Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (2/27/2015) liz west (Flickr)