Journal of Undergraduate Research


bacteriophage, MRSA, staphylococcus aureus, bacteriophage


Life Sciences


Microbiology and Molecular Biology


About 20% of humans are carriers of Staphylococcus aureus (SA). There were an estimated 11,000 deaths in the United States in 2005 attributed to SA, with the majority caused by MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) isolates [1]. Many MRSA isolates have developed resistance to all but one antibiotic drug: vancomycin. However, other bacteria have developed resistance to vancomycin, suggesting that in time MRSA will likewise become non-responsive to this last available drug and MRSA infections will be untreatable. This project looks to find an alternate method of MRSA treatment. Bacteriophage (phage) are viruses that infect bacterial cells in order to self-replicate and produce new progeny, thus lysing and killing bacterial cells. The idea of using phage as a potential therapeutic tool has been around for as long as phage have been known to exist [2,3]. Although bacteria can evolve to escape from phage killing, the use of a biological agent such as phage allows for evolution to also work in favor of the phage to re-acquire the ability to kill target cells. Thus, it is thought that phage therapy could be superior to antibiotic therapy in terms of the ability of the treatment to evolve in response to the development of resistance by the target bacterium. Our hypothesis is that bacteriophage can serve as an alternate method to control pathogenic bacterial infections, and that this will be especially useful for bacterial species that are highly resistant to antibiotic therapy.

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Microbiology Commons