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Stemming the tide of antibiotic resistance by exploiting bacteriophages.

Abstract

Since Alexander Fleming serendipitously discovered penicillin in 1929, antibiotics have been used extensively, and often indiscriminately, in human medicine, agriculture and food processing, saving many lives. Unfortunately, the golden age of antibiotics has come to an end, with the rise in antibiotic resistance rendering some drugs almost completely ineffective. Around the globe, bacterial strains showing resistance to almost all available antibiotics are being reported with increasing frequency, essentially heralding a return to the pre-antibiotic era. Compounding the situation is the stagnation of antibiotic discovery and development – only 15 new antibiotics have been approved in the last 20 years compared with 63 in the 20 years before 2000. It is obvious then that alternative approaches are urgently needed.

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