Research Probes Link Between Cholera Bacteria, Their Bacteriophages, and Antibiotics

April 25, 2024
The study suggests that a higher ratio of phage predators is linked to a milder case of the disease.

A study was published in Science on April 18 “revealing key insights into how bacteria killers caused bacteriophages or phages impact the severity of the waterborne diarrheal disease cholera.” UF Health's website has an article on the study.

The research team, led by Eric Nelson from the University of Florida, set out to “analyze the dynamic relationship between cholera bacteria, their bacteriophages, and antibiotics.” The study underscores the “possibility of creating new strategies to use bacteriophages to kill drug-resistant bacteria in cholera and other diseases.”

One of the key findings of the study “involves a concept called ‘effective predation.’ The researchers found a higher ratio of phage predators to their bacterial prey was associated with milder cholera cases.” This ratio can be used as a “marker of disease severity, informing a physician’s decisions on treatment. It might also predict disease progression.”

The researchers analyzed the interaction of bacteria and bacteriophages in 2,574 stool samples culled from cholera patients in Bangladesh. Nelson emphasized that the bacterium and its phages are shown to both “evolve to thwart the other’s defenses,” and that a clinical trial will be necessary in finding “effective phage therapies.”