Antimicrobial Resistance Blog

Bacteriophages – A Promising Approach to Tackle Antibacterial Resistance

September 2, 2019

As the antibiotic resistance crises worsens and treatment options diminish, there is a pressing need to develop new and alternative antibacterial strategies.

Bacteriophages (or phages in short) and bacteriophage-based products have the potential to become a successful alternative to traditional antibiotics. Phages are viruses that infect bacteria, co-existing in every environment where their bacterial host exists. Through evolution, phages have evolved to become perfect predators of bacteria. Phages were discovered approximately a century ago, just a few years before the discovery of antibiotics. The golden age of antibiotics, alongside the significant challenges in harnessing phages for treating infections, placed phage therapy as a niche field until a few years ago. With the growing antibiotic-resistance crisis and recent scientific advancement, there is renewed and increasing interest in the field of phage therapy.

While no product has yet been approved for marketing, there is an increasing number of well executed Phase I/II clinical trials demonstrating the safety and efficacy of phage therapy.

Human phage therapy trials and the range of target sites/infections

Human phage therapy trials and the range of target sites/infections
(Romero-Calle D, et al., Antibiotics, 2019 8(3), 138)

In addition, many independent successful compassionate treatments have saved some people from otherwise lethal infections. Recently, a British teenager suffering from Cystic Fibrosis made a remarkable recovery after being the first patient in the world to be given a genetically engineered virus to treat a drug-resistant infection.

Trials such as these are performed further to receiving regulatory approval.  Regulatory agencies such as the FDA are advancing initiatives to promote the development of new drugs to treat antimicrobial resistance as well as supporting phage therapy clinical efficacy trials. In fact, the FDA approved the use of phages as “disinfectants” for direct application on foods over a decade ago, further supporting the potential of phages as an alternative to antibiotics for use in food production and processing; environmental cleanliness and veterinary applications.

The growing interest in phages as potential therapy necessitates addressing the significant challenges that still hinder utilization of phages as effective therapeutics, mainly the ability to develop effective broad host range capabilities and avoid development of resistance by bacteria to such treatments. The technology that Trobix Bio has licensed has a lot of potential to address these challenges and revolutionize the battle against highly resistant bacteria.

  • Kilcher S. and Loessner M. J., Trends in Microbiology, 2019, 4, 355-367
  • Kakasis A. and Panitsa G., International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents 2019, 53(1), 16-21
  • Romero-Calle D, et al., Antibiotics, 2019 8(3), 138
  • Phage Futures Congress, 2019, Washington D.C.
  • Dedrick, M. et al. Nature Medicine 2019, 25, 730–733
  • FDA news, 12 June 2018