Practical Applications of Phages in Biology and Medicine

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Practical applicability of bacteriophages in various fields of biology and medicine is based on their capacity to specific interaction with susceptible bacterial strains.

First of all, bacteriophages are long time used for laboratory diagnosis of a large number of infectious diseases.

Species-specific phages interact with bacteria of certain bacterial species, whereas type-specific phages can affect only particular variant of bacteria within the same species. This process is known as phagotyping. The specific phagotype of bacterial strain is proven to be a powerful epidemiological marker of the infection. Isolation of bacteria of the same phagotype from various human or animal hosts allows to trace the course of infection.

Likewise, phagotyping is used for precise identification of bacterial isolates of a great number of microbial species (salmonella, shigellae, staphylococci, causative agents of plague, cholera, etc.)

Also bacteriophages are being actively implemented now into medical treatment and prophylaxis of bacterial infections. This is primarily related with exuberant spread of multidrug resistant bacteria causing severe hospital-acquired infections (e.g., methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus strains, isolates of Salmonella typhimurium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, Acinetobacter baumannii, and others).

Finally, phages vectors are widely used in genetic engineering for design of recombinant vaccines, hormones, cytokines and many other valuable biological products.

Modern advanced vectors include complex genetic systems that contain DNA of various origins; for example, combined phage and plasmid DNA sequences.