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An Infectious Cure

Co Authors:

Dustin J. Eno
Life Sciences
Quest University Canada

Annie Prud’homme-Genereux
Continuing Studies and Executive Education
Capilano University


This four-part interrupted case on phage therapy was developed for a freshmen non-majors course in molecular biology. The case begins with a story inspired by real events where Europeans imposed a treatment for cholera on the unwilling population of an Indian village in the 1920s. Students are introduced to treatments for bacterial infection and discuss the appropriateness of imposing a medical treatment on a population. They also learn about the anatomy and life cycle of bacteriophages, evaluate the risks associated with using live agents as treatments, and compare the relative advantages and disadvantages associated with antibiotics and phage therapy. The case would be appropriate for use in non-majors courses in biology, microbiology, bioethics, or public health. Suggestions for modifying the case for biology majors are provided in the teaching notes.

  • Describe the anatomy and life cycle of bacteriophages.
  • Deduce the implications of using live agents capable of replication as a form of treatment.
  • Assess the health risks of using phage therapy to treat bacterial infections.
  • Compare and contrast the use of antibiotics and bacteriophages for the treatment of bacterial infections.
  • Weigh the personal and public concerns in selecting treatments that impact the health of a population.
Keywords: Phage therapy; bacteriophage; virus; bacteria; antibiotic resistance; cholera; infectious disease; India
Topical Area: Ethics, Policy issues, Regulatory issues, Social issues
Educational Level: High school, Undergraduate lower division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Analysis (Issues), Discussion, Interrupted
Language: English
Subject Headings: Biology (General)   Molecular Biology   Evolutionary Biology   Microbiology   Public Health   Pharmacy / Pharmacology   Medicine (General)   Biochemistry  
Date Posted: 10/17/2011
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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