Team:NTNU Trondheim/Background

Antibiotics resistance – a big, global challenge

Antibiotic resistance is poised to become one of the greatest dangers of our time. Since its discovery in 1928, antibiotics have been our first line of defense against bacterial infections. Antibiotics have saved countless lives, and made difficult and complex surgeries possible [1]. For half a century we have enjoyed the golden age of antibiotics where we have had no reason to fear bacterial infections. But this golden age is coming to an end. Widespread misuse of antibiotics, coupled with minimal investment in new treatments have allowed pathogenic bacteria to develop resistances to many antibiotics. Our best defense against the bacteria have now created one of our greatest medical threats. [2]

Bacteriophages as an alternative to antibiotics

Fortunately, antibiotics are not the only natural enemies of bacteria. Bacteriophages, or phages for short, are tiny, bacteria-specific viruses capable of infecting selected bacteria while leaving other bacteria, as well as animal and plant cells, unharmed. They are one of the most widespread biological units in the biosphere, and exist anywhere bacteria can be found, for instance in soil, water and animal intestines. In nature there is a continuous battle between phages and bacteria, with the consequence that for every bacterium there probably exists one bacteriophage capable of killing it. Bacteriophages might therefore be an interesting topic to look into in the search for alternatives to antibiotics.


[1] Golkar, Z., Bagasra, O., Pace, D. G. (2014). Bacteriophage therapy: a potential solution for the antibiotic resistance crisis. J infect Dev Ctries, 8(2), 129-136. doi: 10.3855/jidc.3573

[2] Infectious Diseases Society of America (2004) Bad bugs, no drugs: as antibiotic discovery stagnates, a public health crisis brews. Alexandria, Infectious Diseases Society of America. Available at

[3] World Health Organization (2017). Antibiotic resistance. Available at:

[4] Phage therapy center (2000-2017). Available at:

[5] Sulakvelidze, A., Alavidze, Z., Morris, J. G. (2001). Bacteriophage Therapy. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 45(3), 649-659. doi: 10.1128/AAC.45.3.649-659.2001