SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, December 02, 2003: GangaGen, a company in the biotechnology industry, is committed to the discovery and development of biologically specific bacteriophage (bacteria eaters) for the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of bacterial infection in medical, veterinary, and agricultural applications, says this company website. The biotechnology industry is only just beginning to boom and companies like GangaGen aim to provide infectious disease solutions to the world through their research and development of bacteriophages. Phages are highly specific, naturally occurring agents that invade bacteria and destroy them. Phages can be developed to eradicate any bacterial infection since they specifically target only bacteria. They cannot be used to treat viral infections.
The first observation of phage-activity was made in India in 1896 by Ernest Hanbury Hankin. He noticed a marked anti-bacterial action in the waters of Indian rivers Ganga (Ganges) and Yamuna against Vibrio Cholorae. The activity destroyed cholera bacteria in cultures. He demonstrated that it could pass through fine porcelain filters and was destroyed by boiling. He suggested that this activity might be responsible for restricting the cholera outbreak among the people that consumed the river water. He, however, did not probe the phenomenon any further. Twenty years later Frederick Twort in England, and Felix d'Herell from Canada, working at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, reported isolating similar filterable entities capable of destroying bacterial cultures. It was d'Herelle who named these ultra microbes, "bacteriophages."