The Deadliest Being on Planet Earth – The Bacteriophage

The Deadliest Being on Planet Earth – The Bacteriophage

[Music] A war has been raging for billions of years, killing trillions every single day, while we don’t even notice. The war is fought by the single deadliest entity on our planet: the bacteriophage or ‘phage’ for short. [Intro + Music] A phage is a virus; not quite alive, not quite dead. Also, they look as if someone made them up. Their head is an icosahedron, a sort of dice with 20 faces and 30 edges. It contains the genetic material of the virus and often sits on a long tail that has leg-like fibers. There are more phages on earth than every other organism combined, including bacteria. And they are probably everywhere living things exist. Billions are on your hands, in your intestines and your eyelids right now. Which might make you nervous since phages are responsible for the majority of deaths on earth but you’re lucky. While they do commit genocide for breakfast, they only kill bacteria. Up to 40% of all bacteria in the oceans are killed by them every single day. But phages also have major flaws. Like any other virus, phages need a host to survive and reproduce. They’re not much more than genetic material in a hull and they specialize. Usually, a phage has chosen one specific bacteria and maybe some of its very close relatives. These are its prey. Imagine a phage as like a cruise missile that only hunts and kills members of one very unlucky family. When a phage finds its victim, it connects its tail fibers with receptors and uses a sort of syringe to puncture a surface. In a weird motion, the phage squeezes its tail and injects its genetic information. Within minutes, the bacteria is taken over. It’s now forced to manufacture all the parts of new phages. They only stop when the bacteria is filled up with brand-new phages. In the final step, they produce ‘endolysin’, a powerful enzyme that punches a hole in the bacteria. The pressure is so high that the bacteria sort of vomits out all of its insides and dies. New phages are released and begin the cycle anew. In the last few years, bacteriophages have enjoyed the attention of the second deadliest beings on earth: humans. Recently, we’ve started looking into injecting millions of them into our bodies because we’re sort of getting desperate; we screwed up. In the past a single cut or a sip from the wrong puddle could kill you. Bacteria were our phages. Tiny monsters that hunted us mercilessly. But then, about 100 years ago, we found a solution in nature. By accident, we found fungi that produced compounds that killed bacteria: antibiotics. Suddenly, we had a powerful super weapon. Antibiotics were so effective that we stopped thinking of bacteria as monsters. Only the old and the weakest among us were killed by them. We used antibiotics more and more for less and less serious causes. We lost respect for the monsters and the weapon But bacteria are living things that evolve and one by one they started to become immune against our weapons. This continued until we had created what are called ‘superbugs’, bacteria immune to almost everything we have. This immunity is spreading across the world as we speak. By 2050, superbugs could kill more humans a year than cancer. The days when a cut or bladder infection or a cough could kill you or your loved ones are coming back. In the US alone, more than 23,000 people die from resistant bacteria each year. But it turns out that phages, our tiny killer virus robots, could save us. We can inject them into our bodies to help cure infections. Hold on, how could injecting millions of viruses into an infection be a good idea? Phages are very very specialized killers of bacteria. So specialized, in fact, that humans are completely immune to them; we are too different. We encounter billions of phages every day and we just politely ignore each other. Antibiotics are like carpet bombing, killing everything even the good bacteria in our intestines that we don’t want to harm Phages are like guided missiles that only attack what they’re supposed to Wait a minute, if we use phages to kill bacteria, won’t bacteria develop ways of defending themselves? Well, it’s more complex than that; phages evolved too. There has been an arms race between them and bacteria for billions of years and so far, they’re doing great. This makes phages smart weapons that are constantly getting better at killing. But even if bacteria were to become immune against our phage, we still might be able to win. It turns out that in order to become resistant to even just a few species of phages, bacteria have to give up their resistance to antibiotics. We might be able to trap them in a catch-22. This has already been successfully tested with a patient who had no other hope left The bacteria ‘Pseudomonas Aeruginosa’, one of the most feared bacteria, infected the man’s chest cavity. They are naturally resistant to most antibiotics and can even survive an alcoholic hand gel. After years of suffering, a few thousand phages were directly inserted into his chest cavity together with antibiotics the bacteria were immune to. After a few weeks, the infections had completely disappeared. Unfortunately, this treatment is still experimental and pharma companies are still reluctant to invest the necessary billions in a treatment that has no official approval yet. But things are finally changing. In 2016, the largest phage clinical trial to date began and phages are getting more and more attention. and we better get used to it because the era in which antibiotics have been our super weapon is drawing to a close. It might be a weird concept but injecting the deadliest being on planet Earth directly into our bodies could save millions of lives This video was made possible by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation If you’d like to support Kurzgesagt, you can do so on and get fancy things in return.

Comments (100)

  1. There's brand new stuff in the Kurzgesagt Merch Shop. Check it out here:

  2. I’m procrastinating on my science work with this channel

  3. Hey what if bacteria immune to antibiotics and phage?

  4. Why does it sound so eerily similar to HIV? It's really kind of frightening to view this video for me!

  5. phage – meaning "devour" or "absorb"

  6. phage sounds good

  7. Did I watch a informative video or a horror movie?!?!

  8. Pls make more videos on the human body .You are AWESOME.

  9. I wonder how expensive they're gonna make them. Or if they'll make them at all

  10. Wow this guy explain it so easy and with the pic it made it better to understand and i even laugh when i saw phages and bacteria fight cause it looks so good but the main thing is this video is 100 per. good to me.

  11. Here's my question, if the bacteriophage evolves to hunt its target, and our cells are immune, if theres ever a lack of harmful bacteria, wouldnt they evolve to feed on us instead if we used this more abundantly?

  12. If I learned this in school I would be like “ this is pointless”.. so why am I so entertained in this video

  13. Me at 10: honey badgers are the most deadly animal
    Me at 11: Humans are the most deadly animals
    Me at 12: Microphages are the most deadly animal

  14. Phages are good against bacteria.
    Anti-vaxxers: I'd rather let my kid die a painful death because of a deadly bacteria rather than injecting the virus that is his only hope to live.
    If phages are gonna be medication against bacteria we will have another race of idiots named anti-phagers.

  15. Dude… I just came here 'cause that thing just looked like the machines in the Kindergarden of Steven Universe

  16. Here comes esppinel

  17. how does the bacteriophage know that its the correct bacteria ? What does it use as a homing beacon?

  18. Are there more bacteria than viruses?

  19. What if the phages evolve to kill humans and this is another huge mistake, I see why the pharmacies are nervous

  20. literally that thing is the injector from steven universe what the heck

  21. Man we are lucky these things exist

  22. D20? Ah yes. Enslaved phage

  23. Bacteria: I am the best
    Phage:omaya ma shinduyu

  24. Make then go rouge and were screwed

  25. Maybe "Resident Evil" is coming true.

  26. Plot twist:
    Phages are microbots made by humans in the future and now sent in past to save themselves.

  27. 4:44 Bad Boys Bad boys

  28. The Worms reference

  29. They are fekkin metal

  30. The comment section of these videos are pure gold, I can't stop laughing.

  31. What after phages kill all bacteria in a human body and decided to evolve to a new phages that kills good bacteria or human cells ??

  32. Your videos and voice in video is great 👌

  33. But couldn't makeing stronger phages everywhere put bacteria at risk of being extinct

  34. Are we able to genetically modify viruses?

  35. It looks like a radar tower from an airport with legs

  36. the most deadly thing on our planet can't kill the 2nd most deadly

  37. White blood cells: who are you?
    Phage: I'm you, but stronger.

  38. Deadly bacteria:

    Complement: hold my c3b

  39. make a video about grey goo

  40. so if phages evolve too. wouldn't they evolve to be able to infect human cells as well.

  41. This looks like the thing from Steven universe.

  42. I found an article created in 2001 about the phages, it's already 2019 and why havent they used by people 😅

  43. who knew that thing from adventure time ( i think ) was dangerous

  44. Virus's are rather interesting. Not dead, but also not alive. There just "a thing." Rather fascinating concept. I think the only reason they're classified as not alive is because they cant reproduce asexually or sexually. And i think they dont have a metabolism or need food.

  45. Did anyone else get this recommended in 2050 September 11th?

  46. Bacteria:Exists
    Phage: CREATED BY GOD NOT BY EARTH AS MY POWER IS DIVINE(carlous Rex by Sabaton )

  47. I have never been so happy for a virus

  48. the 2nd and 1st deadliest thing make something super dangerous known as healthy humans.

  49. Are we just supposed to gloss over the virus that tried to bone that human cell and then politely went on it’s way

  50. They used them in Russia during WW1 instead of pinicilin lol. Also, they were used to treat cancer in the pre ww2 era USSR.

  51. Giving antibiotics to live stock has had 100 times more impact on resistance then over prescription of the same drugs.

  52. First 30 seconds: me: 😶 nooope

  53. mentions bacteriphages being on eyelids me: welp..thanks for the terror

  54. Good day! I would like to ask, if the bacteriophage overpowered certain bad bacteria then grew into millions of population then how do they die or be destroyed? I mean if they have nothing left to eat or to replicate with will they destroy themselves or what?

  55. So basically, we can turn phages onto our side and use them as an ally…. sick

  56. That's all fun and good, but what happens when the phages evolve to kill humans as well? It's not likely but it still could happen.

  57. ok now seriously if school teaches us like these videos, i wouldnt bother thinking about school, it will be like watching a movie

  58. So basically all we meed to know is if Phages only evolve for specific bacteria, and not radically mutate and start targeting Human cells? If so, then this thing is the even-generation savior, and the odd-gen would be plain ol' antibiotics.

    I wanna know opinions. Share them and let's discuss. I'm talking to everyone that sees this ambitious comment.

  59. xd i saw this video when i was 3 and i tryed punching them off me XD


    HAHA WE'RE F$&%#@!!!!!!!

  61. So basically bacteriophage are anti heroes?

  62. Talks about how superbugs will kill more people in 2050 than cancer
    Me: Ahh hell no!
    Talks about how phages will save us
    Me: Ahh hell yeah!

  63. i believed everything until i heard bill and melinda gates

  64. The enemy of our enemy is our friend.


  66. Why can't we become immune to bacteria??

  67. So people are stupid and have brought superbugs upon us all, and now we will have to inject the deadliest thing in the world into us to stop it… yeah humanity this is why aliens wont take us seriously

  68. All i can say, thank you phage!

  69. These are the things in Jimmy Neutron when they had to go into Carl’s body

  70. Im surprised to see no mention about the reference of the game worms at all..

  71. Nice worms reference

  72. sources? only because i am interested and want to know more.

  73. I like that cute arms race

  74. How do you create a video like this?

  75. Sounds like those nanobots Will arrive sooner than we think

  76. So basically, the deadliest organism on the planet has a D20 for a head

  77. Plague Inc theme stops

  78. Bacteriophage: exist
    Human body:

  79. What if viruses start evolving themselves to target human cells? Well HIV is pretty famous virus which does affect humans…

  80. Shoulda used phages, instead you took ages


  82. wilhelm scream 5:11

  83. 4:58 Well yes,but actually no.

  84. Big Pharma says no because they like money.

  85. Of course Big Pharma isn't going to pick up something that is actively going to treat and/or cure most medical issues. They thrive off of us being sick. If we make something that cures us, they lose money and may eventually go bankrupt.

  86. So phages and bacteria are playing a awesome Strategic war game and we got no part in seeing?

  87. Of where the HELL have come ALL these deslikes?! What the FUCK Man…😂

  88. Who would win

    Millions of deadly bacteria or 1 tiny boy

  89. white blood cells: stfu ur hiring a virus to do our job

  90. Hold on, what about phages that are specialized to kill bacteria which are good for our body? Wouldn't they be dangerous?

  91. Is the intro inspired by infinity war's intro

  92. Anti vaxxers see's this video
    Anti vaxxers: stop spreading fake news!

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