Enemy or Valuable Ally? How Biotech Uses Viruses for Good

Taking advantage of the ability of viruses to manipulate life is opening new doors for the biotech industry. Once only seen as our enemies, viruses are fast becoming some of our most valuable allies.

Viruses may not have the best public image, but to biotechnologists, there’s a lot to admire about them. These tiny molecular machines have unparalleled abilities, honed over billions of years of evolution, to infiltrate and exploit living beings — including ourselves.

Domesticating viruses has been an ongoing scientific endeavor for decades. Their talents as cellular hijackers make them extremely valuable as tools for a wide variety of biotech applications, from delivering gene therapies to killing superbugs.

Bacteria-eating viruses

The threat of antimicrobial resistance was labeled “as big a danger to humanity as climate change or warfare” by the UK’s Health Secretary at the World Economic Forum last year. Indeed, antibiotic-resistant infections are on track to kill 10 million people a year by 2050.

As the number of effective antibiotics in our arsenal continues to dwindle, there is an increasing interest in tackling superbugs using bacteriophage viruses, which are natural predators of bacteria. These viruses have been killing bacteria for billions of years, and they’ve become very, very good at it.

Bacteriophages, or phages, latch on to their target and hijack its internal machinery to produce more viruses,

The post Enemy or Valuable Ally? How Biotech Uses Viruses for Good appeared first on Labiotech.eu.

Published on Mon, 21 Dec 2020 10:30:38 +0000 and sponsored by power apps array ends with number