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Bacteriotherapy: the time has come

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 18 August 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:353

Bacterial interference is an increasingly attractive approach to prevention and therapy

  1. Pentti Huovinen, chief physician
  1. Antimicrobial Research Laboratory, National Public Health Institute, 20520 Turku, Finland

    The worldwide emergence of bacterial resistance to antibacterial agents has produced a need for new methods of combating bacterial infections. This need is forced on us by the long time lag in developing new antibacterial agents. And even though new agents may be in the pipeline, they will not solve all current resistance problems. In addition, we also have to recognise that the use of antibacterial agents not only selects resistant bacteria but also disturbs normal human flora, which may itself further inhibit our defence against infection. Bacteriotherapy—using harmless bacteria to displace pathogenic organisms—is an alternative and promising way of combating infections.1

    A recent paper in the BMJ by Roos et al showed how commensal α haemolytic streptococci were used to replace the normal nasopharyngeal flora in children with recurrent otitis media.2 The results were astonishing. After treatment, recurrences of otitis media fell to half of those in the control group; at three months 42% of children given streptococci in nasal spray were healthy …

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