The Englishman Edward Twort first discovered bacteriophages in 1915, whilst in 1917 the Frenchman Felix d’Herelle rediscovered this group of viruses that lyse bacteria and named them “bacteriophages” or “phages” for short. Since their discovery, bacteriophages have been used for treating bacterial infections in humans in Eastern European countries and the former Soviet Union, where a number of encouraging results were obtained.
As early as 1921, Bruynoghe and Maisin used phage therapy to treat staphylococcal skin infections. During World War II, bacteriophages were successfully used to treat bacterial infections on the battlefields by the former Soviet Union, and such treatment undoubtedly saved the lives of numerous soldiers. In the 1940s, American and French companies began to manufacture bacteriophage products, which were primarily used for treating bacterial infections caused by Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Escherichia coli, Neisseria and other pathogenic bacteria, including those causing purulent infections of the skin and mucous membranes, upper respiratory tract infections, vaginitis, and ear mastoid infections. With the discovery of antibiotics and the rapid increase in the 1940s of the types of antibiotics developed, bacteriophages, as antibacterial agents, gradually faded from people’s minds. Nevertheless, further research and application of bacteriophage therapy continued in the former Soviet Union and some Eastern European countries such as Georgia and Poland.