Phage therapy shown to kill drug-resistant superbug

Phage therapy shown to kill drug-resistant superbug
Credit: University of Liverpool

Scientists from the University of Liverpool's Institute of Infection and Global Health have shown that phage therapy could offer a safe and effective alternative to antibitotics in the treatment of cystic fibrosis lung infections.

Chronic lung infections caused by the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa are becoming increasingly difficult to treat due to (AMR). With limited alternative therapeutic options available this has led to a renewed interest in (bacterio).

Phages are viruses that kill bacteria but are otherwise harmless. A major advantage is that phages only target the harmful bacteria, so there are less side of the effects often associated with antibiotics. Phage therapy however has not had the same level of funding as drug development, due to a lack of convincing pre-clinical efficacy studies.

Here for the first time, researchers have shown that phage therapy is highly effective in treating established and recalcitrant chronic caused by multi-drug resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa strains. They show that phages are capable of killing the bacteria in long term infected lungs, such as those suffered by patients with the inherited disease , indicating a potential new therapeutic option for these hard to treat life threatening infections.

Professor Aras Kadioglu, who led the study, said: "Given the increasing problems caused by bacteria that are resistant to treatment with antibiotics, there is an urgent need to develop new approaches. We have shown that phage therapy has the potential to offer a safe and effective alternative for the treatment of such persistent bacterial infections."

Professor Craig Winstanley, who co-led the study, added: " face the prospect of life-long treatment with antibiotics, which often prove ineffective and can have side effects, especially when used for long periods. Hence phage therapy could be a particularly valuable addition to the treatment of in these patients."

The recent UK Government Review on Antimicrobial Resistance by Jim O'Neil, highlights phage therapy as a potential alternative to antibiotics in the treatment of AMR infections. In addition, the WHO recently identified Pseudomonas aeruginosa as one of the key pathogens against which there is a critical need to develop new therapies. This new study provides valuable pre-clinical evidence for phage therapy being a viable option.

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More information: Elaine M Waters et al. Phage therapy is highly effective against chronic lung infections with, Thorax (2017). DOI: 10.1136/thoraxjnl-2016-209265
Journal information: Thorax

Citation: Phage therapy shown to kill drug-resistant superbug (2017, March 13) retrieved 22 September 2019 from
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Mar 13, 2017
Incredible,phage therapy has been used since 80 years in Russia or URSS with success !!
Many Europeans moved in Georgia to save your leg against superbugs !!

With chlorine used even on meat and poultries in US you make superbugs with ordinary bacteries !!

Mar 13, 2017

This might be the other side of the coin.

Mar 13, 2017

This might be the other side of the coin.

I was also wondering if it would be possible for the phage to become less selective on which cells it attacks.

Mar 13, 2017
I was also wondering if it would be possible for the phage to become less selective on which cells it attacks.

Since that is how these phages are created (selectively 'breeding' them until they are highly specific to a certain type of cell) the reverse process is theoretically possible. However in the breeding phase the virus is provided with ever fresh hosts. During the intervention the virus destroys all the avialable hosts (which is the entire point of the excercise), so the chance of some mutant strain suddenly attacking other parts of the patient is small.


Mar 30, 2017
Given phages specifically target their 'prey', perhaps this may offer a clue to developing vaccines ??

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