"Unless we act now, common diseases will become untreatable and modern life-saving procedures riskier," said Professor Ebdon. "The economic impact of uncontrolled antibiotic resistance will also result in a dramatic rise in health expenditures, further increasing levels of poverty and inequality."
This ability of phages to target disease-causing bacteria was first observed over 100 years ago and harnessed initially in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, where they are still routinely used today to treat humans.
In the UK, phages are used in a variety of other applications. These include tracing groundwater contamination and identifying human sources of water pollution, and they have also been used to control pathogens in food. However, phages are only currently permitted for treating UK patients on compassionate grounds, in life-threatening situations when all other treatments have been exhausted.