The 4th International Hands-on Phage Biotechnology Course takes place June 17-21, 2019 in Braga, Portugal. Learn theory and techniques for studying phage-host interaction and performing phage genetic manipulation. Registration is now open! Prices go up April 1.
This summer, a new phage journal, PHAGE: Therapy, Applications, and Research, will be launched by the publisher Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., and the editor in chief will be Dr. Martha Clokie!
More phage defense systems?? (And a great article title!) Check out this new paper on Gordonia phages by Matthew T. Montgomery and colleagues in the Hatfull lab.
Cherry canker is a devastating tree disease that could one day be treated by phages. Learn about the work George Sundin’s lab at Michigan State University is doing to make this a reality!
If you want to better understand the funds available for AMR drug development, here’s a slideshow from a talk given this week by John Rex of the Wellcome Trust. It explains what’s available, the different funding models that exist, provides lots of links, discusses pitfalls, and lists a lot of upcoming meetings where you can learn more.
The Institute of Bio- and Geosciences (IBG-1) of the Forschungszentrum Jülich performs research in the field of molecular and applied microbiology. The successful candidate will work on an ERC funded project and will be part a Helmholtz research group located at the IBG-1. Current projects of the group focus on phage-host regulatory interaction and the integration of prophage elements in host networks. Applications from experimentalists wanting to switch to data analysis are welcome.
The gut microbiome consists of viruses, bacteria, archaea and eukaryotes. To date research efforts have focused on bacteria, however the gut virome remains underexplored, even though the viral (bacteriophages) interactions are intrinsically linked to the dynamics of the gut microbiome. The project will seek to understand overall changes to the gut microbiome with increased phage loads.
This week, we’re going over a recently-published phage therapy case report.
A patient in Israel (a 42 year old male who’d been in a motor vehicle accident) sustained open fractures in his legs, and contracted an antibiotic-resistant, poly-microbial bone infection.
His leg was colonized with both extensively antibiotic-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii and multi-drug resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae.
Normally, this would necessitate amputation of the leg. However, the patient refused.
After seven months of in-hospital treatment with surgeries and antibiotics, personalized phage therapy was combined with antibiotics to treat the wounds.
Personalized phage therapy involves selecting one or more phages for treatment based on their demonstrated ability to kill the patient’s exact strain of bacteria.
The patient’s infection was cleared, his wounds healed, and his leg did not have to be amputated.
The medical team at the Hadassah Hebrew University Medical Center cultured the bacteria from the patient’s leg wound, identified the bacteria (A. baumannii and K. pneumoniae), and tested them for antibiotic susceptibility.
Ronen Hazan’s lab at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem tracked emergence of phage-resistant mutants over time by culturing phage and bacteria together.
No active phages were found in the patient’s blood, urine, stool or saliva.
Phage resistant A. baumannii cells grew in the lab. However, within a few weeks, Dr. Hazan’s team isolated a new phage (from sewage) that could kill the phage-resistant mutant. Comparison of the genomes of the phage-resistant mutant and the parent strain showed differences in 37 genes!
Fortunately, although phage resistance was seen in the lab, it was never observed in the patient, so the new phage didn’t need to be used.
The patient’s Klebsiella isolate wasn’t resistant to meropenem unless it was co-cultured alongside the (meropenem-resistant) Acinetobacter isolate.
When grown together, the two bacteria could only be inhibited by the antibiotics if the phages were also present.
The teams involved got their experimental treatment protocol and informed consent agreement approved by both the hospital’s ethics committee and the Israeli Ministry of Health. The patient then gave his informed consent, and the treatment was administered.
This was clearly a success story for the patient. As well, this case brings us several useful insights about personalized phage therapy:
Of note, this was the first case of phage therapy in Israel.
Nir-Paz, R., Gelman, D., Khouri, A., Sisson, B. M., Fackler, J., Alkalay-Oren, S., … Hazan, R. (2019). Successful treatment of antibiotic resistant poly-microbial bone infection with bacteriophages and antibiotics combination. Clinical Infectious Diseases. doi:10.1093/cid/ciz222
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