Fighting infections with viruses

Scientists at the university have shown that viruses can kill bacteria and may be used to combat common infections related to the use of medical devices such as catheters.

This new insight could lead to new methods of preventing infections and could contribute to overcoming problems with antibiotic resistance and comes after a recent government review on the antibiotic resistance challenge suggested that deaths from antibiotic resistant infection could exceed deaths from cancer by 2050, and cost the global economy $100 trillion.

A team led by Dr Brian Jones, Reader in Molecular and Medical Microbiology at the university’s College of Life, Health and Physical Sciences, has been studying infections associated with the use of urinary catheters which are used in their millions across the world every year.

The team has focused on a particular species of bacteria called Proteus mirabilis, which is a common cause of these infections and leads to extensive encrustation and blockage of catheters. This, in turn, leads to the onset of serious complications such as kidney infection and septicaemia, one of the UK’s biggest killers.