Bacteriophages as Potential Treatment Option for Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria

  • Robert BraggEmail author
  • Wouter van der Westhuizen
  • Ji-Yun Lee
  • Elke Coetsee
  • Charlotte Boucher
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 807)


The world is facing an ever-increasing problem with antibiotic resistant bacteria and we are rapidly heading for a post-antibiotic era. There is an urgent need to investigate alterative treatment options while there are still a few antibiotics left. Bacteriophages are viruses that specifically target bacteria. Before the development of antibiotics, some efforts were made to use bacteriophages as a treatment option, but most of this research stopped soon after the discovery of antibiotics. There are two different replication options which bacteriophages employ. These are the lytic and lysogenic life cycles. Both these life cycles have potential as treatment options. There are various advantages and disadvantages to the use of bacteriophages as treatment options. The main advantage is the specificity of bacteriophages and treatments can be designed to specifically target pathogenic bacteria while not negatively affecting the normal microbiota. There are various advantages to this. However, the high level of specificity also creates potential problems, the main being the requirement of highly specific diagnostic procedures. Another potential problem with phage therapy includes the development of immunity and limitations with the registration of phage therapy options. The latter is driving research toward the expression of phage genes which break the bacterial cell wall, which could then be used as a treatment option. Various aspects of phage therapy have been investigated in studies undertaken by our research group. We have investigated specificity of phages to various avian pathogenic E. coli isolates. Furthermore, the exciting NanoSAM technology has been employed to investigate bacteriophage replication and aspects of this will be discussed.


Bacteriophage Therapy Antibiotic resistance Escherichia coli NanoSAM 


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Copyright information

© Springer India 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Bragg
    • 1
    Email author
  • Wouter van der Westhuizen
    • 1
  • Ji-Yun Lee
    • 1
  • Elke Coetsee
    • 1
  • Charlotte Boucher
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food BiotechnologyUniversity of the Free StateBloemfonteinSouth Africa

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