What are phage and how do they work?
Phage are viruses which infect very specific host bacteria, not affecting other bacteria or human cells. Phage seek out and kill the specific bacteria which are that phage’s host; tricking it. 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.
Are bacteriophage used therapeutically anywhere today?
Phage are commonly used to treat infectious disease currently in the Republic of Georgia, Poland and Russia. Phage therapy is used experimentally and as last resort medicine in the US, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Columbia, Thailand.
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.