Phage Therapy Bacteriophages as Natural, Self-Replicating Antimicrobials

Authored by: Elizabeth Kutter

Practical Handbook of Microbiology

Print publication date:  June  2015
Online publication date:  June  2015

Print ISBN: 9781466587397
eBook ISBN: 9781466587403
Adobe ISBN:


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Bacteriophages—specific kinds of viruses that can replicate only in bacteria—have been discussed in much detail in the previous chapter. The art of using these phages to kill pathogenic microorganisms was first developed early in the last century, but since chemical antibiotics became available in the 1940s, phage therapy has been little used in the West. Today, however, the growing incidence of bacteria that are resistant to most or all available antibiotics is leading to widespread renewed interest in the possibilities of phage therapy. 1 16 Nature recently published a news story entitled “Phage Therapy Gets Revitalized.” 17 Particular emphasis there is placed on Phagoburn——the first large, multi-centre clinical trial of phage therapy for human infections, largely funded by the European Commission,” which is investing €3.8 million in the study. The phage cocktails being used in this project have been developed by the French company Pherecydes Pharma, but the project also involves the French military, the patient advocacy group Phagospoir, the production company Cleancells, and three major burn-care units in France, three in Belgium, and one in Switzerland. Collaborative approaches of this sort may well be required to rapidly harness phage to help fight the ever-growing serious antibiotic resistance crisis. Progress there has been very slow, since phage therapy does not fit well into our standard corporate pharmaceutical model.

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