Century-old therapy may halt drug-resistant bacteria

Century-old therapy may halt drug-resistant bacteria
(Source: KAIT)

(KAIT/NBC) - One Texas woman is turning to the past for a cure that modern medicine hasn't been able to provide.

Patti Swearingen thought multiple rounds of antibiotics over five years would cure her painful urinary tract infections.

Instead, the bacteria in her body had become partially resistant to the drugs.

The antibiotics caused side effects like dizziness and digestive problems.

Patti and her husband decided to try something different.

They read about a phage therapy center in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia.

USC-San Diego Professor of Medicine Robert Schooley says this popular 1940s-era treatment used tiny viruses found in water and soil to kill bad bacteria in the body.

"Each individual phage is very selective in what it will kill. That's not the way you approach antibiotics," said Schooley. "With antibiotics, a lot of the development has been trying to find antibiotics that will kill everything in sight."

Doctors believe phage therapy is safe but caution there are no clinical trials proving its safety.

For more information on Patti's story, click here.

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