Unlocking the Power of Bacteriophages: Join Us at ICBRAR-2023

Issue 236 | September 1, 2023
8 min read
Capsid and Tail

This week, Atif Khan, a core contributor for Capsid & Tail, tells us a bit about the history of phage work in India, and invites us to join him at the ICBRAR 2023, an upcoming phage conference in Chennai. Both Jess and I will be speaking virtually! If it wasn’t for just coming back from organizing Evergreen, we’d definitely be there.

What’s New

Franklin Nobrega’s phage team at the University of Southampton, UK have created KlebPhaCol, an open-source collection of 52 Klebsiella phages and 61 clinical strains with associated data, which is now available for scientists to request and contribute to.

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Phage CollectionOpen sourceKlebsiella

Jean-Paul Pirnay at the Queen Astrid Military Hospital and colleagues published a new preprint on their center’s first 100 cases of personalized phage therapy. They report clinical improvement in 77% of cases, and eradication of the target bacteria in 61.3%.

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PreprintPhage therapy

Sofia Dahlman (Monash University, Australia) and colleagues characterized 125 active prophages from 252 human gut bacterial isolates, revealing that temperate gut phages are prevalent, diverse, and predominantly inactive.

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Temperate phagesDiversityPreprint

Katherine Wetzel and colleagues found that trehalose polyphleates (large surface-exposed glycolipids) are required for infection of Mycobacterium abscessus and Mycobacterium smegmatis by clinically useful phages BPs and Muddy.

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Phage therapyResearch paperMycobacterium

Hans Carlson (Lawrence Berkeley National Lab) and colleagues found that phages most influence terrestrial microbial functional ecology in hot spots and ‘hot moments’ such as metazoan guts, drought influenced soils, or biofilms where ion concentration is locally or transiently elevated and nutrients are available.

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GeochemistryMicrobial ecosystemsResearch paper

Latest Jobs

BioinformaticianGut microbiome
The Quadram Institute, Norwich, UK is hiring a Bioinformatician to to join their Food, Microbiome and Health programme.
The Laboratory of Bacterial Molecular Biology in Sao Paulo, Brazil is hiring a postdoc to explore the potential use of native and recombinant phage endolysins as antimicrobial agents to Gram-negative bacteria.
Microbial PhysicsResearch Associate
The Cavendish laboratory (Department of Physics), University of Cambridge, UK is hiring a Research Associate to study fundamental aspects that drive the evolutionary trajectories of phage-bacteria ecosystems as a function of physical constraints.
BiocontrolPhD project
ILVO (Flanders, Belgium) is hiring a PhD student to study the use of phages for controlling Pseudomonas in cherry crops.
Machine LearningData ScienceResearch Fellow
University of Nottingham is hiring a Research Associate/Fellow in Machine Learning and Data Science to take a leading role in a BBSRC funded research project entitled “Using bacteriophage to control Salmonella in pigs”.

Community Board

Anyone can post a message to the phage community — and it could be anything from collaboration requests, post-doc searches, sequencing help — just ask!

The 4th International Conference on Bacteriophage Research and Antimicrobial Resistance is hosting ”Phages for Life”, a hybrid conference from Sept 28-30 in Chennai, India and online, with the theme of “Harnessing bacteriophages for human well-being”. Submit your abstract here!

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ConferenceAMRPhage therapyBiocontrol

The Computational Phage Genomics Programme 2023 at the University of Copenhagen runs in-person Oct 27 - Nov 3, offering hands-on experience analysing phage genome sequencing data, from raw NGS reads to a fully assembled and annotated phage genome. The course includes lectures and computer exercises.

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Computational biologygenomicscourse

Adaptive Phage Therapeutics is combating antibiotic resistance with phage therapy in a new film, Race Against Resistance debuting September 5, as they take viewers on a phage hunt through the zoo to find out where phages come from.

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Phage therapyFilmAMR

Antibiotics journal is inviting submissions for a special issue on “Phages and Their Derived Products as Novel Strategies to Combat Bacterial Infections”, with submission deadline on 31 Dec 2023.

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Special IssuePhage therapy

In a new episode of Phagecast, the hosts speak with Ben Burrowes, CEO of BB Phage Consultancy, known for his work on phage training, A.K.A. the Appleman’s protocol.

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PodcastPhage training

Unlocking the Power of Bacteriophages: Join Us at ICBRAR-2023

Profile Image
Biofouling and Thermal Ecology Lab, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai, India
Twitter @atifbarc

Phage isolation, Molecular Biology, Phage-host interactions, Biotechnology

I am currently working on application of bacteriophages to control biofouling in cooling water pipelines of power plants. Briefly, I am aiming to target bacterial biofilm which are involved in quorum sensing based chemotaxis of barnacles and mussel larvae which settles on biofilm and develop into adult and cause biofouling. I am also aiming to minimize the current use of chlorine and make the application of bacteriophages more feasible which will also minimize the generation of hazardous byproducts. I am also isolating and collecting bacteriophages of different bacterial hosts isolated from the environment or available in the laboratory.

Interest: I am highly interested in learning the bioinformatics tools and new laboratory techniques useful in phage research. I will be very happy to share my experience.

Phage Research in India: A Legacy Revisited

Phage research in India has deep historical roots dating back to 1896 when British bacteriologist Ernest Hanbury Hankin made groundbreaking observations. He was the first to describe the ‘bactericidal action of the waters of the River Ganges on Cholera microbes.’ Even today, water from the Ganges remains an integral part of Hindu households, stored for extended periods without spoilage or unpleasant odors. This remarkable preservation is attributed to the believed presence of Bacteriophages in the Ganges, although further scientific evidence is required to confirm this hypothesis.

In 1927, during an Asiatic cholera epidemic in Punjab, Dr. Felix d’Herelle demonstrated the potential of phage therapy by treating 74 severely ill patients. Astonishingly, the phage therapy group exhibited only a 6% mortality rate, compared to the 63% mortality rate in the control group (Can J Infect Dis Med Microbiol. 2007 Jan; 18(1): 15–18. doi: 10.1155/2007/365761). However, with the emergence of antibiotics in the 1940s and 1950s, phage therapy lost its prominence in India as antibiotics were considered more effective and convenient for treating bacterial infections.

A Resurgence of Phage Therapy

In recent years, the rapid rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria (AMR) has reignited interest in phage therapy as an ideal solution to combat this escalating global health threat. Pioneering researchers like Dr. Sanjay Chhibber (Panjab University) and Dr. Gopal Nath (Banaras Hindu University) continued their work with bacteriophages, guiding the next generation of researchers who have chosen to explore the potential of phages.

In 2017, The Society for Bacteriophage Research and Therapy (SBRT) was established, officially registered on December 19, 2018, with Dr. Sanjay Chhibber as President and Dr. Gopal Nath as Secretary. Under the SBRT umbrella, an annual conference on bacteriophage research and therapy was initiated, providing a platform for phage researchers to convene, interact, and collectively advance phage research in India.

ICBRAR-2023: Uniting Global Phage Experts

Continuing this tradition, the Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC) and the University of Madras are jointly organizing the 4th International Conference on Bacteriophage Research and Antimicrobial Resistance (ICBRAR-2023). The conference theme, “Phage for Life: Harnessing Bacteriophages for Human Wellbeing,” encompasses eight thematic areas of phage research, spanning from phage therapy to applications in agriculture and marine environments. Distinguished speakers from various industries and experts in the field will share their insights.

ICBRAR-2023 will take place from September 28 to 30, 2023, in Chennai, a picturesque coastal city in India. Over forty internationally acclaimed phage researchers from around the world will deliver talks on various aspects of phage research, sharing their work and ideas with approximately 200 in-person and virtual participants. The conference will facilitate valuable interactions and networking opportunities for students and researchers, fostering new collaborations and enduring scientific engagement. For those unable to travel to Chennai, organizers have announced a hybrid mode, ensuring global participation in this knowledge-enriching experience.

Phages for life

Challenges and Opportunities in Phage Research

Phage research in India is still in its infancy, presenting both challenges and opportunities. Key challenges include standardizing phage preparation, establishing guidelines and protocols for phage treatment, conducting clinical trials, and defining phage delivery protocols. Collaboration among Indian researchers is essential to generate scientific evidence-based data for regulatory approval. ICBRAR-2023 offers an ideal platform for Indian researchers to learn from global experts like Prof. Dr. Jean Paul Pirnay (Belgium), Prof. Mikael Skurnik (Finland), and Dr. Jessica Sacher (Australia), who have pioneered phage therapy in their respective countries.

Additionally, talks by Prof. Robert Edwards and Dr. Simon Roux will provide insights into bioinformatic techniques and tools necessary for extracting meaningful outcomes from genomic data related to phages of interest.

Beyond Phage Therapy: Expanding Applications

Bacteriophages and their applications extend beyond therapy, with relevance across various domains where bacterial control is crucial. Dr. Hany Anany and Dr. Janet Nale will discuss phage applications in food preservation, while Dr. Karthik Ananthraman, Dr. Hiren Joshi, and Dr. Justyna Andrysiak will explore bacteriophages in aquaculture and marine environments. Dr. Palani and Dr. Justyna Kowalska will share insights on phage applications in agriculture. The conference will also feature talks by Dr. Franklin Nobrega, Dr. Rodrigo Ibrara Chavez, and Dr. Sutharsan Govindarajan, shedding light on fundamental aspects of bacteriophage research. Furthermore, Dr. Vinod Kumar, Prof. Amita Gupta, and Dr. Paul Jaschke will delve into other biotechnological applications of bacteriophages.

For a detailed list of speakers and the conference schedule, please visit https://www.icbrar2023.com/

Join us at ICBRAR-2023 and be a part of the phage research revolution, where science, innovation, and collaboration converge to shape the future of bacteriophage applications for the betterment of humanity.

Dr. Hiren Joshi also contributed to this article.

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Mary Ann Liebert PHAGE

Supported by

Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust

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