Bacteriophage means virus eating bacteria. bacteriophage therapy is considered as one of best alternative to antibiotics.

By:  Ali Raza, Muqaddas Amin, Asma Mairaj

From beginning humans are facing some dangerous diseases. These diseases may be fungal, bacterial, protozoal, and viral. All of them are very lethal and causing severe damage to human beings throughout the globe. Out of them most common infections are bacterial infections.  different groups of antibiotics are made to treat bacterial diseases. Antibiotics decreases the load of diseases but with passage of time due to repeated use of antibiotics microbes develops resistance against these antibiotics. So to resolve this issue a new therapy is used by medical researchers called as bacteriophage therapy.

Bacteriophage means virus eating bacteria. bacteriophage therapy is considered as one of best alternative to antibiotics. Phage was first discovered by Twort in 1915 and d.Herelle in 1917.both discovered them independently. General structure of bacteriophage Head and tail which further classified by different scientists which are as follow

Felix d Herelle first discovered bacteriophages.

  • Burnet classification
  • Ruska classification
  • Bradley classification
  • Tikhoneneko s classification

Bacteriophages have two life cycles

Lytic cycle

Lysogenic cycle

Lytic cycle includes lysis of bacterial cell and lysogenic involves no lysis of bacterial cell viral DNA itself in cooperates into bacterial DNA and transferred to further generation.  

 Why bacteriophage therapy is more preferred over Antibiotics?

There are many reasons why bacteriophage therapy is preferred over broad spectrum antibiotics

  • Antibiotics destroyed both beneficial as well as harmful microbes however bacteriophages are highly specific in their action.
  • Bacteriophages have better tolerance capacity as compared to antibiotics.
  • Chances of development of resistance against bacteriophage therapy is low.
  • Bacteriophages are nontoxic for body metabolism
  • Bacteriophages replicate inside the bacterial host thus decreases the load of microbes.
  • Bacteriophages can disperse the biofilm A structure that make infections difficult to remove by using Antibiotics.
  • In case if any resistance developed against bacteriophages then can be modified by using combine therapy of more than one bacteriophage stains
  • As one bacterial cell burst using bacteriophage therapy thousands of new bacteriophages released to effect other bacteria and this process continues.
  • Bacteriophage therapy is cheap and easily available as compared to antibiotics.


Bacteriophage therapy is now widely used in medical science to reduce the burden of disease in both humans and animals some of useful applications of bacteriophage therapy are given below.

  • According to the report of WHO World Health Organization in 2017 categorized 12 most lethal pathogens that have developed antibiotic resistance. These pathogeneses are now minimized by using bacteriophage therapy. List of few of them agents which bacteriophage therapy is being used are given below
  • aeruginosa
  • Escherichia coli
  • Klebsiella
  • Enterobacter
  • Serratia
  • Proteus
  • Treatment of surgical wound:

Bacteriophage therapy was extensively used during Finnish Campaign in 1939 to 1940 as an effective therapy for treatment in surgical wounds. A mixture of bacteriophages can used to treat Clostridium perfringens, Staphylococcus spp., and Streptococcus spp. That are responsible for gas gangrene in humans.

  • As post-operative treatment:

It is observed that phage therapy given to cancer patients as post-operative treatments gives good and effective result as compared to same patients treated with broad spectrum antibiotics.

  • Treatment of burn surfaces:

In case of burns burn surfaces are highly colonized by bacteria that form biofilms on burn surfaces and become resistant to action of bacteriophage therapy works effectively to remove the biofilms and used in treatment of burns surfaces.

  • Treatment of chronic ulcer:

Chronic ulcers formed as a result of some disorder like insufficiency of blood circulation, in case of diabetes, and many other. Two types of ulcers are found

superficial ulcers:

these ulcers that are present for shorter duration and are caused by Staphylococcus spp., mainly S. aureus

deep ulcers:

  • Those ulcers which are present for longer duration are colonized with the diverse microbiota that contains Proteobacteria and anaerobes, including Anaerococcus, Peptonihilus


As bacteriophage therapy made a revolution in medical history but still there are some issues with bacteriophage therapy that need to be solved. Following are lists of some limitation that should be solved in order to use bacteriophage therapy in future against various diseases.

  • As bacteriophage therapy is highly specific so its difficult to isolate a specific stain against specific bacterial agent.
  • Bacteria may develop résistance against bacteriophage therapy.
  • Following mechanism are used by bacteria to escape the attack of bacteriophage therapy
  • Hiding from bacteriophages
  • Change or loss of receptor
  • Secretion of substances that prevent adhesion of bacteriophage to pathogen surface.
  • Activation of measures for preventing blocking DNA entry into the cell
  • Due to lysogenic character of bacteriophages they are highly discouraged
  • Lysogenic phases Inco operate their DNA into bacterial genome and may be as source of spreading résistance to next generations.
  • Bacteriophages are non-self-antigens and immune system recognizes them as as induce responses by body immune system so it may reduce the working of immune system.
  • Bacteriophage therapy is still using in humans to treat many infections especially infections of skin and GIT. However, the use of bacteriophage therapy is still contra versional and not allowed in some countries of world.


Bacteriophage therapy has brought a revolutionary change in medical science and helps a lot in combating against many infectious diseases. Due to bacteriophage discovery human and animal health are considered more safer as compared to past. Although even after lot of success still there is gap for all researchers of world to work on it and sort out the problems for the welfare of mankind. 

Authors:  Ali Raza, Muqaddas Amin, Asma Mairaj from Institute of microbiology, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan.