Meet the
Mighty Phage

A microscopic assassin that infiltrates, multiplies, and obliterates specific bacteria, it's the microscopic saviour in our war against antibiotic resistance.

What are phages?

Virus That Targets Bacteria
Genetic Material in a Capsid
Bacterial Predators
Abundant and Diverse

Bacteriophages, or phages for short, are tiny viruses that infect and target bacteria. When a phage encounters a bacterium, it attaches to the bacterial surface and injects its genetic material inside.

Bacteriophages are estimated to kill approximately 20% of the world's bacteria every day. This means they play a significant role in controlling bacterial populations in various environments, such as oceans, soil, and the human body.
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Phages are believed to have been around for billions of years. They are among the oldest biological entities on Earth. The precise timeline of their existence is difficult to determine, but they likely co-evolved with bacteria and have been a part of Earth's ecosystems for a very long time.
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They are incredibly abundant, with some estimates suggesting there could be as many as 10^31 phages on the planet. To put it in perspective, that's more than 10 million times the number of stars in the observable universe.
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How do they work?

Phages first attach to specific receptor sites on the bacterial cell’s surface. They then inject their genetic material into the bacterium.

Once inside, this genetic material hijacks the bacterial machinery, forcing it to produce more phage components. These components are assembled into new phage particles. As the phage progeny matures, it causes the bacterial cell to burst open (lyse), releasing the newly formed phages into the environment.

These new phages can infect other bacteria, continuing the cycle. Phages are highly specific to their bacterial hosts, making them effective natural predators in controlling bacterial populations.

01

Attachment and Entry

This is the initial stage where the phage attaches to a specific receptor site on the bacterial cell surface and injects its genetic material into the cell.

02

Replication and Assembly

Inside the bacterial cell, the phage’s genetic material takes control of the cell’s machinery, directing it to replicate the phage DNA or RNA and synthesize new phage protein capsids. These components are assembled to create new phage particles.

03

Lysis and Release

As the new phage particles mature, they cause the bacterial cell to burst open (lysis), releasing the newly formed phages into the environment. These new phages can then go on to infect other bacterial cells and continue the cycle.

How good are they?

Phages are the renegades of infection control. 
They’re bacterial terminators, precision-guided and relentless. While antibiotics may fumble against resistance, phages adapt, hitting bacterial bullseyes.

They’re like the ultimate action heroes in the microbial world, leading the charge against antibiotic-resistant foes.

01

Targeted Bacterial Killers

Phages are excellent at infecting and killing specific types of bacteria. They can be highly effective at eliminating bacterial infections caused by their target species.

02

Reduced Antibiotic Resistance

Phages have shown promise as an alternative to antibiotics, particularly in cases of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.
They offer a different mechanism of action, reducing the selective pressure for antibiotic resistance.

03

Biological Control

Phages play a natural role in regulating bacterial populations in various ecosystems, helping to maintain ecological balance.

However, there are some considerations:

01

Specificity

Phages are highly specific to their target bacteria. This specificity can be a limitation because a phage that works on one bacterial strain may not work on another.

02

Regulation and Standardisation

Using phages as therapies or antibacterial agents requires careful selection and regulation to ensure their safety and efficacy.

03

Research and Development

Phage therapy and applications are still under development and may not be as readily available or as well-studied as traditional antibiotics.

Phages have the potential to be highly effective in certain contexts, particularly in combating specific bacterial infections.