Referring to the virus, you will imagine small, formidable and infectious creatures. Even they are just zombie creatures, half alive and half dead.
It is true that most viruses need to be parasitic on the host and when they cause illness – mild, severe flu like SARS, HIV, Ebola … Viruses work by invading host cells, taking over Its cell function, taking advantage of nutrients and resources to copy and release new virus particles. After that, viruses multiplying exponentially continue to infect many cells and cause disease.
But not all viruses are bad. Some viruses can be used by humans to kill bacteria and treat multi-drug resistant infections. While others can fight against more dangerous viruses.
So, like the bacteria that protect the intestines, humans also have some protective viruses in their bodies.
Not all viruses are bad, some also help us fight infections, HIV and even cancer
Phages can protect us
Phages are viruses that infect and kill bacteria. They are found inside mucus secreted from our gastrointestinal, respiratory, and reproductive lining.
These mucus called mucus, such as nasal water, provide a physical barrier against bacterial entry and protect the underlying cells from infection. Recent research shows that the presence of phage in the mucus is part of the natural immune system, protecting the human body from invading bacteria.
In recent years phages have also been used to treat many diseases, from dysentery, skin infections, salmonella to blood infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus.
Surprisingly, scientists have found phytoplankton that treat diseases in local lakes, in dust and air, even sewage or body fluids of infected patients.
The first viral strains will need to be isolated from these sources, then purified and cloned to billions of phages contained in each dose.
These viral doses have received our attention, amid increasing rates of antibiotic-resistant infections in recent years. In many cases patients are resistant to all existing antibiotics, phage has become their last hope. Many times, viruses have saved the lives of patients spectacularly.
Treating infections with phage today is not just about reviving a therapy that was forgotten from the Soviet era. Now, scientists can also modify the gene for the virus. Phage strains are tested to see if they can fight against the right target bacteria. And then, when it was most effective, they were refined into strong doses.
Phage can be prepared into cocktail, meaning a dose will contain many different strains, targeting many types of bacteria. Or it can be made into a specific drug, targeting only one strain of bacteria.
Phages are viruses that infect and kill bacteria.
To know what the target bacteria is, doctors simply need to take a gauze, absorb pus from the infected area of the patient. The sample was then cultured in a laboratory to determine which strain of bacteria caused the infection.
A series of phages were then put to the test, the most effective bactericidal virus will be selected to prepare the drug as stated.
The drug contains phage of many forms, from oral administration, to the wound or bacterial damage to rub directly on the surface of the infection. Currently, clinical trials for intravenous phage are underway.
Viral infections are sometimes beneficial
When a child is infected with the virus, it is sometimes important to ensure proper development of the immune system. Low-level stimulation of the virus can train the immune system against germs later in life.
Some infectious viruses will protect us from other viruses.
For example, latent herpes virus (non-symptomatic) can help killer cells (a type of natural white blood cells in the human body) to identify cancer cells or cells infected with viruses. another disease. The virus equips killer cells with antigens (a strange substance that can cause an immune response in the body), allowing them to identify tumor cells.
This is both a competitive strategy and a survival strategy of the virus, enabling them to survive longer in the host. Because if you die of cancer or infectious disease, the virus will soon die after your body stops working.
In the future, scientists are aiming to refine the virus, such as using genetic modification tools to create drugs targeted at cancer cells.
Viruses sometimes help us fight disease, including cancer
Another example is Pegachus C (GBV-C), a virus that does not cause clinical symptoms. The surprise study showed that HIV patients infected with GBV-C lived longer than patients without the virus.
The virus slows down the growth of HIV by capturing host receptors, competing against viruses from entering cells. In addition, they promote the release of interferon and cytokine, proteins secreted by white blood cells that activate inflammation and remove cells or pathogens from the body.
In another example, viral strains called norovirus have been shown to help protect the intestines for mice when they are given antibiotics. Usually, this protection task belongs to the intestinal bacteria. But when they are also killed by antibiotics, noroviruses can take over the task of protecting their hosts.
The future of viral therapies
Today, modern technologies have enabled us to understand more about the complexities of human microbiota. Microorganisms have been recognized as part of our bodies. In addition to the good bacteria in it, we now know that beneficial viruses are also present in the intestines, on the skin and even in the blood.
Although our understanding of these viruses is still very preliminary, the potential of applying them to help people fight disease is huge. Viruses can also shed light on the evolution of the human genome, helping us fight genetic diseases and develop gene therapies.