Resistance to antibiotics is leading to an increasing number of deaths. But special viruses could help. Antibiotics are becoming increasingly ineffective. But one medicine could help: it contains special viruses that can destroy germs. So-called bacteriophages have been used successfully in Georgia for decades.
Bacteriophages are hardly known In Western Europe. But time is of the essence, because antibiotic resistance is one of the most pressing medical challenges of our age. Ekkehard Eichler from Brandenburg falls seriously ill after a heart operation. Antibiotic-resistant pathogens have infected the post-surgery wound and also attacked his sternum, leading to a severe inflammation of the periosteum. Doctors say it’s untreatable and advise the removal of his sternum. Eichler looks for alternatives. His search takes him to the former Soviet republic of Georgia, where forms of treatment using bacteriophages are well known. The widespread shortage of antibiotics in Eastern Bloc countries meant they were forced to find other ways to combat infectious diseases and resorted to viruses. The Eliava Institute in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, has more experience with this type of treatment than anywhere else in the world. Now scientists in Germany are trying to make germophages from Tbilisi available in the EU.