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ETH researchers want to treat cystitis with viruses

ETH researchers want to treat cystitis with viruses

ETH researchers have developed a new treatment approach for cystitis. In the future, special viruses can hunt down the bacteria that cause the infection. Until then, the newly developed rapid test should improve conventional antibiotic treatment.

Researchers at ETH Zurich have found one. In addition, they have developed a new rapid test in collaboration with Balgrist University Hospital. Both the therapeutic approach and the new test rely on viruses that cause bacteria, called phages.

Although bacteriostatic treatments have been known for a long time, they fell into oblivion in western industrialized countries with the discovery of penicillin. Phages have a crucial advantage in that they specifically attack only a single target bacterium.

However, the disadvantage is that phages do not completely kill their host, the disease-causing bacteria. To solve this problem and increase the effectiveness of phages, the researchers genetically modified them. However, the treatment is still in the laboratory stage – there is still a long way to go before it can be used on a large scale.

The new rapid test, which is also based on phages, could be used more quickly. When treating bladder infections, doctors often face a dilemma: Despite the rise in antibiotic resistance, they often have to prescribe them blindly. Because with a conventional diagnosis, it takes several days to accurately identify the pathogen.

The new rapid test allows pathogens to be identified within a few hours. If this is known, a more specific antibiotic may be chosen. This prevents the formation of resistance.