Innovative bio-nano technologies: bacteriophages against infections
Increasing Resistance is a natural phenomenon
Antibiotic resistance is not new. Although many antibiotics have been developed over the years, bacteria succeeded to develop mechanisms to evade them. The increasing threat of resistance to existing antibiotics has been the major driver of the renewed interest in bacteriophage (“phage”) treatment.
An estimated 900,000 resistant infections occurs in hospitals annually1, killing 63,000 patients2 (roughly 173 patients per day). Each year, antibiotic resistance results in 8 million more hospitalization days adding more than $20 billion to US healthcare costs3.
The resistance phenomenon has increased dramatically during the past 10 to 15 years. Widespread overuse and poor compliance are the main reasons of this increasing prevalence of MDR infections.
Bacteriophages are natural viruses: they can be found anywhere in our environment, on our skin, in our intestinal tract, in the soil, water, ...
They ONLY target bacteria.
They are harmless to eukaryote organisms such as humans, animals, fishes, plants, insects, algae’s, etc.
They are highly specific toward the bacterial species that they target and even occasionally to given strains from that species.
When they recognize their bacterial target, they attach to its outer membrane, inject their genetic material and reproduce in their host to make new phages that can get out and repeat the same cycle.
The lytic phages, those we are interested in, kill properly the bacteria as their progeny leave their host.
Lytic versus lysogenic phages reproduction
Phage therapy has been applied for decades to treat bacterial infections, first by Pasteur Institute in France, then inGeorgia and Russia. The advent of antibiotics during the second world war led to a significant reduction of phage therapy, except in Eastern countries.
Contrary to inert treatments like antibiotics, live therapies self propagate and kill their target until infectious germs disappear. Phages adapt to new bacterial resistance form and combat infections where antibiotic failed.
The next pharmaceutical revolution happens through phages. They provide efficacy against Multi Drug Resistant germs (MDR), as well as full safety and high specificity toward human infections.
Today, treaments have to go through the process of large-scale validated clinical trials. Pherecydes Pharma and the French health military Service recently lauched a first in class, multicenter, european project, PHAGOBURN, to evaluate phage therapy in infected burn wounds.
Details can be found at www.phagoburn.eu
1M. Chan. 2012 Keynote address by WHO Director-General at the conference on Combating Antimicrobial Resistance: Time for Action, Copenhagen, Denmark. Antimicrobial resistance in the European Union and the World.
2M. Chan. 2011 Statement of WHO Director-General at World Health Day 2011. Combat drug resistance: no action today means no cure tomorrow.
3JM Hughes. 2011. Preserving the lifesaving power of antimicrobial agents. JAMA 305(10):1027-28.