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Possible Alternative For Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria

1 week, 3 days ago

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Posted on Mar 08, 2018, 7 p.m.

Viruses that infect bacteria called phages which inhabit the female bladder in abundance may be used as an alternative treatment when pathogenic bacteria become resistant to antibiotics as published in the Journal of Bacteriology.


For decades in some European countries phages have been used as an alternative to antibiotics, particularly in the cases of urinary tract infections. This is study is the first large scale investigation of phages in the bladder, and is the first process for the characterization of phages that are already present within the bladder that have the potential to identify candidates for phage therapy clinical studies for urinary symptom management and treatment.


Researchers analyzed 181 female urinary microbiome bacterial genomes. The samples were found to be more abundant than expected of the microbiome phylogenetic diversity. 457 mostly novel phage sequences were found to be contained in the female urinary microbiome.


Genomes that are found in viral sequencing can often be fossils of long ago, reflecting infections that can no longer reproduce independent virus particles which can then infect additional bacterias. In order to test the sequence viability researchers selected 1 of the 181 bacterial genomes and found that they were able to induce one of several phage sequences within the genome to reproduce.  Phages from different women were found to be related, suggesting that residing within the female bladder there may be a common set of phages. Some variation in the abundance of phages was observed between healthy bladder compared to those isolated from women with symptoms of urinary tract infections, suggesting that phage may contribute to urinary health.


Up until very recently it was believed that urine in healthy individuals was sterile. This dogma was overturned with the discovery of the female urinary microbiome. This study marks the start and is just the beginning to what will more than likely be numerous studies into phage diversity of the urinary microbiome, opening up new avenues to explore for therapies and treatments.



Materials provided by American Society for Microbiology.

Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

Taylor Miller-Ensminger, Andrea Garretto, Jonathon Brenner, Krystal Thomas-White, Adriano Zambom, Alan J. Wolfe, Catherine Putonti. BACTERIOPHAGES OF THE URINARY MICROBIOME. Journal of Bacteriology, 2018; JB.00738-17 DOI: 10.1128/JB.00738-17


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