YC Startup Felix Plans To Replace Antibiotics With Programmable Viruses

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YC startup, Felix, wants to use programable viruses to fight drug-resistant bacteria and reduce the reliance on antibiotics by farmers and doctors.

Written By Shubham Bose | Mumbai | Updated On:
YC startup wants to utilize programmable viruses to combat bacteria

Amidst the deadly coronavirus outbreak, another microscopic organism could threaten humanity. According to reports, antibiotic-resistant bacteria killed more than 7,00,000 people last year, whereas 35,000 in the United States alone. If nothing is done to combat them, then the number could grow to 10 million annually by the year 2050. But a YC Startup can combat this problem using programable viruses.

Virus vs bacteria

As per reports, antibiotic overuse by doctors and farmers had led to this problem. The medication used killed off most of the harmful bacteria, but not all.  Felix, a biotech startup has come up with a way to deal with this problem, through the use of viruses. Felix’s key technology allows the programming of the virus to target specific bacteria. This kills the bad bacteria and also halts its ability to evolve and become drug-resistant.

While the idea may seem unique it is not new. Bacteriophages, or viruses that can “infect” bacteria, were first discovered by an English researcher in 1915. Commercialized use of viruses to kill bacteria in patients began in the United States in the 1940s through Eli Lilly and Company. But after anti-biotics made their appearance, Western Scientists dropped the idea of using viruses and did not do any more research into it.

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Robert McBride, co-founder of Felix believes that his company can bring the concept of employing bio-engineered viruses to combat drug-resistant bacteria to the forefront. According to reports, McBride believes that his company can develop therapies in less time and for less money than traditional antibiotics.

Felix plans on deploying its treatment for bacterial infections in those suffering from cystic fibrosis first, this is because the patients suffering from them require an almost constant stream of antibiotics to combat lung infections. As per reports, the next step for Felix and its groundbreaking research is to conduct a small clinical trial involving 30 people and then a larger human trial, after which they will seek FDA approval.

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