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The World Health Organization has described the rise of antibiotic use as a “global heath security emergency” ( With the growing concern about antibiotic resistant bacteria, there has been an increased interest in bacteriophages. Bacteriophages are high-specific viruses that only infect bacteria. The use of bacteriophages medicinally to treat bacteria is called phage therapy. Research in phage therapy gained momentum until the introduction of antibiotics. While the USA and other Western countries accepted antibiotics, the Soviet Union and their satellite nations still continued to research phages. Since the funding for research was supplied by the Soviet military, the results of their studies were deemed top secret. With the fall of the Soviet Union, data that were previously unavailable to the USA and other nations became available to the larger research community.

Articles were reviewed from the discovery of phages to current clinical trials that have been done. The papers about the history of phages explored why phage therapy did not gain the popularity in the USA they have today in Easter Europe. As phage therapy was a standard of care during their study, the studies done were not double-blind, placebo controlled and are not applicable to the standards set out by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European Medicines Agency (EMA). Current clinical trials are being conducted under the purview of the FDA and EMA.

While phage therapy has the advantages of being highly specific, there is concern that phages could potentially exchange DNA between bacteria and actually cause bacteria to become more virulent. Although there are concerns with phage therapy such as DNA exchange and possible viral mutations, phage therapy should be investigated through clinical trials under the purview of federal regulatory agencies because while the large body of research is not the standard double-blind placebo controlled study as required by the FDA, they do show promise as novel form of treatment of bacterial infections.

Publication Date


Subject Major(s)



Phage, Medicine, Biologics, Therapy, Antibiotics, virus, viral, translational medicine, medicine


Bacteria | Bacterial Infections and Mycoses | Bioinformatics | Biological Factors | Heterocyclic Compounds | Immunology and Infectious Disease | Medical Biotechnology | Medical Molecular Biology | Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmaceutics | Molecular Biology | Viruses

Current Academic Year


Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Faye Prichard


© The Author(s)

Integrating Phage Therapy into Western Medicine