Chapter 49 : Frederick Twort, Codiscoverer of Phages

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There is an odd disparity about the recent and otherwise excellent biographies of Frederick Twort and Félix d’Hérelle, the French Canadian whose 1917 "discovery" of bacteriophages 2 years after Twort helped to rescue the Englishman from obscurity. Much of this work, not only the discovery of bacteriophages, but also the first cultivation of Johne's bacillus and the discovery of the accessory food factor later known as vitamin K, had been of undoubted practical importance, but there was little enthusiasm for his speculations on viruses as the most primitive forms in evolution and his suggestions that he had cultivated them in the absence of living cells. Researchers at the Houghton Poultry Research Station in Britain demonstrated that bacteriophages could control diarrhea caused by enteropathogenic in calves, piglets, and lambs. At a clinical work in Poland, phage therapy proved successful in dealing with severe suppurative wound infections that had failed to respond to any other therapy. Used to treat potentially fatal infections in mice, the phages were highly effective against both enteropathogenic and serovar Typhimurium. More recently, researchers at the in Austria, genetically engineered bacteriophages to promote their bactericidal activity while at the same time minimizing the release of endotoxins.

Citation: Dixon B. 2009. Frederick Twort, Codiscoverer of Phages, p 228-232. In Animalcules. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817442.ch49
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1. Daniell, T. J.,, M. L. Davy,, and R. J. Smith. 2000. Development of a genetically modified bacteriophage for use in tracing sources of pollution. J. Appl. Microbiol. 88: 860 869.
2. Hagens, S.,, and U. Bläsi. 2003. Genetically modified filamentous phage as bactericidal agents: a pilot study. Lett. Appl. Microbiol. 37: 318 323.
3. Merril, C. R.,, B. Biswas,, R. Carlton,, N. C. Jensen,, G. J. Creed,, S. Zullo,, and S. Adhya. 1996. Long-circulating bacteriophage as antibacterial agents. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 93: 3188 3192.
4. Summers, W. C. 1999. Félix d'Herelle and the Origins of Molecular Biology. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT.
5. Twort, A. 1993. In Focus, Out of Step. Alan Sutton, Stroud, United Kingdom.

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