The age of phage: Friend or foe in the new dawn of therapeutic and biocontrol applications?
Hassan, A.Y., Lin, J.T., Ricker, N., Anany, H. (2021). The age of phage: Friend or foe in the new dawn of therapeutic and biocontrol applications?, 14(3), 1-36. http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ph14030199
Plain language summary
Extended overuse and misuse of antibiotics and other chemicals has resulted in an antimicrobial resistance crisis. Bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacteria, and have emerged as a legitimate alternative antibacterial agent, with a wide scope of applications that continue to be discovered and refined. However, some bacteriophages can sometimes take information from one bacterium that is already resistant to antibiotics and help another bacterium become resistant as well, in a process called transduction. On the other hand, some other phages have the potential to be used as therapeutic and biocontrol agents within medical, agricultural, and food processing settings, against a variety of types of bacteria. They can also be used to quickly detect how much and what type of bacteria is present in food, water and blood samples. Bacteriophages can also be engineered to improve desired characteristics for their use. This review article aims to provide a balanced perspective on the utility of bacteriophages for therapy and biocontrol as well as their ability to disseminate antimicrobial resistance genes and how both angels are related to current antimicrobial resistance crisis. It starts with discussing phage’s role in the acquisition, maintenance, and dissemination of antibacterial resistance genes. Then, various examples on phage-based applications to combat antimicrobial resistant bacterial strains are provided. Finally, challenges of phage applications, such as development of phage resistant mutants, and recommendations to overcome these challenges are discussed.
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.Extended overuse and misuse of antibiotics and other antibacterial agents has resulted in an antimicrobial resistance crisis. Bacteriophages, viruses that infect bacteria, have emerged as a legitimate alternative antibacterial agent with a wide scope of applications which continue to be discovered and refined. However, the potential of some bacteriophages to aid in the acquisition, maintenance, and dissemination of negatively associated bacterial genes, including resistance and virulence genes, through transduction is of concern and requires deeper understanding in order to be properly addressed. In particular, their ability to interact with mobile genetic elements such as plasmids, genomic islands, and integrative conjugative elements (ICEs) enables bacteriophages to contribute greatly to bacterial evolution. Nonetheless, bacteriophages have the potential to be used as therapeutic and biocontrol agents within medical, agricultural, and food processing settings, against bacteria in both planktonic and biofilm environments. Additionally, bacteriophages have been deployed in developing rapid, sensitive, and specific biosensors for various bacterial targets. Intriguingly, their bioengineering capabilities show great promise in improving their adaptability and effectiveness as biocontrol and detection tools. This review aims to provide a balanced perspective on bacteriophages by outlining advantages, challenges, and future steps needed in order to boost their therapeutic and biocontrol potential, while also providing insight on their potential role in contributing to bacterial evolution and survival.