Is phage therapy an alternative treatment against antimicrobial resistance?
Pherecydes Pharma, a biotechnology company which specialises in the research and development of anti-infective therapies based on the use of bacteriophages, has announced that its bacteriophage therapies have been successfully used to treat a patient with relapsing Staphylococcus aureus prosthetic-joint infection (PJI). The results of the treatment were published in Open Forum Infectious Diseases at the end of last year.
The patient had relapsing severe prosthetic joint infection of the hip. As a salvage treatment – in combination with antibiotics – phages selected by Pherecydes from its library (and manufactured in an R&D laboratory according to a strict quality control process) were applied onto the infection site during surgery. Phages were well tolerated and the treatment led to a favourable outcome.
Phage therapy is an innovative therapeutic approach against bacterial infections, particularly those acquired in hospitals (HAI) – and/or resistant to antibiotics. According to the O’Neill report, if antibiotic resistance continues to increase it will result in the deaths of 10 million people each year and a 2 to 3.5% reduction in global GDP from 2050 onwards.
Phage therapy a new option
The WHO estimates that the annual costs generated represents €7bn ($8.3bn) in Europe and $6.5bn (€5.5bn) in the United States. The rapid development of antibiotic resistance has become a major public health issue. In 2017, the WHO published a list of priority targets, which includes those pathogens selected by Pherecydes.
“We are delighted to report the successful use of our bacteriophages for the treatment of a patient,” said Jérôme Gabard, COO of Pherecydes Pharma. “We will continue with our work on phage therapy to provide a new option to address the antibiotic resistance issue.”
“As of now, nine patients have been treated with our phages,” said Guy-Charles Fanneau de La Horie, CEO of the company.
“Twenty-one months without relapse show that this successful outcome makes phage therapy a promising method to treat bone and joint infections. It could contribute significantly to the fight against antimicrobial resistance,” said Tristan Ferry, professor at the reference centre of bone and joint infections of the Hospital de la Croix-Rousse-HCL (Lyon – France).
Phage therapy involves using lytic bacteriophage viruses (more commonly known as phages) to treat bacterial infections. Such a treatment was widely used on an informal basis throughout the world before the discovery of antibiotics. Today, both Georgia and Russia include phages in their pharmacopeias. Phages are also used in Poland in compassionate practice.
Since the early 2000's, the emergence of HAIs involving multi-resistant bacteria and the lack of new and effective antibiotics has led to a modern form of phage therapy emerging in numerous countries.
In Europe, this revival can be traced back to 1994 when, during skin grafts, the use of phages to treat an infection caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa proved effective. Since 2017, France and the US have agreed to reintroduce this modernised therapeutic approach for last resort treatments.
Pherecydes Pharma develops innovative and adaptive solutions to fight multi-resistant bacterial infections, using personalized and individualized combinations of phages selected for their specific activity against bacterial infections, thanks to ‘phagograms’.
Pherecydes Pharma set up banks of bacteriophages to fight antibiotic-resistant infections. It currently owns collections of phages against Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus. These three species are responsible for more than 50% of bacterial infections in industrialised countries.
Since January 2017, Pherecydes’ phages have regularly been administered to patients within a ‘compassionate treatment scheme’ in France. For more information, visit www.pherecydes-pharma.com