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Battling the Super Bug - Transcript

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00:00            Hospital shots - Woman on trolley
                      Corridor with Priest walking
                      Patient in bed
                      Close-up of drug entry site
                      Nurse taking out medicines
                      Close up of prescription drugs
                      Bottles in lab
                      Scientist working in lab

Guide Voice: The spread of Methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus, more commonly known as the MRSA superbug, is now at an all time high in our hospitals.

It is responsible for the vast majority of serious hospital infections; a true super bug that can only be controlled by one antibiotic and is fast becoming immune to that.

Making new antibiotics can take anywhere up to 15 years of research, development & clinical trials which is why scientists at the University of Warwick in the UK are looking at other ways to combat MRSA.

00:34 SOT: Professor Nicholas Mann - "People are familiar with the concept of germs. But basically there are two really distinct kinds of germs - there are bacteria which are living cells just like you and me. Or there are viruses which are essentially inert biological entities but they can infect living cells and damage them. And what we're looking at are these specific viruses or bacteriophages, we call them phages for short which can infect bacterial cells."

01:02            Laboratory equipment shots

Guide Voice: Phage therapy has come at a crucial time. Scientists believe the over-prescribing of antibiotics in the last 50 years will lead to them all becoming useless in just over a decade.

01:14 SOT: Professor Nicholas Mann - "Forty years ago antibiotics were being discovered very rapidly. But now the rate at which new antibiotics is being discovered has dramatically slowed down. And usually within a year of a new antibiotic being introduced one finds bacteria which are resistant to it. And so we've had this continual race between discovering antibiotics and the bacteria becoming resistant. And now it looks as if the bacteria are winning that race."

01:38            Shot of scientist streaking a petri dish

Guide Voice: Phage therapy is not a new concept.

01:41 SOT: Professor Nicholas Mann - "There was a lot of interest in the twenties and thirties in developing phage therapy but there was a lot of very poor science done. There were phage therapy products which didn't actually have any phage in them or had the wrong phage in them or were used to treat the wrong infection. And with the advent of antibiotics in the forties phage therapy soon became scientific archaeology."

02:01            Laboratory shots - Scientists at work

Guide Voice: The scientists at the University of Warwick are so confident in their research that they have set-up a company called Novolytics specifically to promote phage therapy.

02:11 SOT: Professor Nicholas Mann - "Novolytics hopes to do some basic science on phages which infect stapphoreus and then to develop these phages as a therapeutic product."

02:20            Petri dish

Guide Voice: But how exactly does it work?

02:23 SOT: Faith Burden, PhD student, University of Warwick - "The phage attaches on the outer membrane of the bacteria. It then injects its DNA into the bacterial host and after multiplying many thousands of times possibly this causes the bacteria to burst open because the bacteria can't hold so many virus particles."

02:43            Still of phage

Guide Voice: The DNA of the virus kills the bacteria.

02:47            Shots of patient having her wound dressed

Guide Voice: Novolytics hopes to incorporate the bacteriophages into healthcare products such as wound dressings in hospitals.

02:53 Faith Burden, PhD student, University of Warwick speaking over shots of bandage being applied - "For example you'd have a virus impregnated in a wound dressing. So we've got a patient with a nasty wound on their leg for example, so you could put the wound dressing onto the leg, onto the site of infection. We only have to get one phage into that wound site. Once that phage has attached to the nasty bug that's causing the infection, that good virus can then go into the bug, multiply and then burst open. And then many of those viruses can then be released and then it can go into a different bacteria that we might have in that wound. It's a very simple method but it works very well."

03:31            close-up of wound dressing on legs

Guide Voice: If the University of Warwick is successful in their development of phage therapy MRSA could soon be a thing of the past.

03:38 SOT: Professor Nicholas Mann - "I think now is a particularly appropriate time in view of speading antibiotic resistance to look at phage therapy and re-evaluate it properly to see whether its going to help people develop new methods of treating bacterial infections."

00:01            Second black

04:10            Short graphic sequence to illustrate phage introducing DNA to bacteria (suitable to illustrate sound bite at                       02:23)

04:28            Ends

Page contact: Tom Abbott Last revised: Thu 31 Mar 2005
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