Israeli Scientists Isolate Virus for Treating Bacterial Disease

Israeli Scientists Isolate Virus for Treating Bacterial Disease

In the war against bacteria, scientists are constantly having to invent new antibiotics as bacteria evolve resistant strains. Now an old idea seeing the light of day for the second time may hold the answer to the antibiotic vs. bacteria arms race. Two Israeli scientists, Dr. Ronen Hazan from the Institute of Dental Sciences at Hebrew University and Dr. Nurit Beyth from Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Dental Medicine, are researching the therapeutic potential of a virus taken from Jerusalem’s sewage.

The virus, called EFDG1, infects the bacteria E.faecalis. E.faecalis causes heart infections, bacteria throughout the bloodstream, urinary tract infections, infections of the meninges, or coverings protecting the brain, and tissues around the teeth. It often causes infections after root canal procedures, surviving in as many as 20 to 33 percent of procedures. The organism is resistant to most antibiotics, and can protect itself with what is known as a biofilm, which antibiotics cannot penetrate.

Enter EFDG1. In culture the virus was shown to be highly effective at killing E.faecalis, even when a biofilm was present, and even in strains that have evolved antibiotic resistance. Tissue samples taken from patients with root canal infections showed clearing of the infection when EFDG1 was added to their culture. The researchers concluded that the virus could prove to be an effective way to prevent infection during root canal procedures.

Bacterial drug resistance is a serious problem. Each year hundreds of thousands patients die from drug-resistant bacterial infections.

The above research was supported by a Hebrew University-Yissum grant. It will be reported in April of 2015 in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Presently it can be viewed at http://aem.asm.org/content/early/2015/02/02/AEM.00096-15.abstract.