What are phage?
Phage are viruses which infect very specific host bacteria, not affecting other bacteria or human calls.
How do phage work?
Therapeutic phage are the predators which seek out and lyse and kill the specific bacteria which are that phage’s host. They do this by attaching to the cell wall, injecting the phage genetic material into the cell, taking over the host cellular machinery to reproduce phage copies and then lyse, or break open the cell to release the progeny phage to infect other cells. In the presence of the host bacteria, the phage increases exponentially and when no hosts remain, the phage die out.
How are phage different from antibiotics?
Phage attach to specific receptors on the surface of their host bacterial cell and infect only those bacteria. Phage reproduce exponentially in the presence of the host bacteria and die off when the hosts are killed. The cell is killed by a genetic manipulation of the bacterial cell, rather than by a chemical process, as with antibiotics. The very specific targeting of particular bacteria by phage leaves the rest of the bacteria in the microbiome undisturbed. The maintenance of a healthy microbiome helps to prevent infection, resistance to antimicrobial therapy, and helps to maintain the health of the organism.
Why is there a crisis of antibiotic resistance?
The problem is that drug companies are not investing their research funds to produce new antibiotics, and bacteria are very effective in developing resistance to current antibiotics. For an increasing number of infections, this is leading to the inability to treat previously curable infections. As the problem is getting worse steadily, with no prospect for new investment, we are now contemplating the “end of the antibiotic era”.
Are phage used therapeutically anywhere today?
Phage a commonly used to treat infectious disease currently in the Republic of Georgia, Poland and Russia. Phage therapy is are used experimentally in the US, France, Begium, Switzerland, Columbia, Thialand…
What are the regulatory boundaries to the implementation of phage therapy?
Phage therapy is not currently FDA approved for humans in the US. Phage can be used compassionately for patients who, for example, have failed recommended standard therapy and face an unfortunate treatment choice: amputation or trial of phage therapy.