phageSuisse: toward phage therapy in Switzerland

Issue 164 | February 18, 2022
8 min read
Capsid and Tail

The association phageSuisse was founded to bring together health actors working or wishing to work with bacteriophages in Switzerland.

phageSuisse is a nonprofit founded to bring together health actors working or wishing to work with phages in Switzerland. This week, Vera Neumeier shares a recap of four recent phageSuisse webinars.

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Urgent February 15, 2022

Urgent need for Haemophilis parainfluenza phages for a patient in the USA

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Review: Phage therapy in the COVID-19 era: Advantages over antibiotics.

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Resource/tutorial: ‘Microbiome binfies — Bioinformatics and the microbiome’ by Andrea Telatin.

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Paper: Global burden of bacterial antimicrobial resistance in 2019: a systematic analysis.

AMRAntibiotic resistanceResearch paper

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iVoM2 #4: Endless virus diversity most beautiful

Date: 6 pm CET, Tuesday, February 22nd, 2022

Fungal and oomycete viruses with persistent lifestyles and unprecedented genome organizations
Dr. Eeva Vainio
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Diversity of Giant Viruses
Prof. Frank Aylward
Department of Biological Sciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA

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Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, UBC

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Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Heidelberg, Germany

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The first ESGNTA Online Course titled: “Personalised Phage Therapy: Basic Principles of Monitoring and Treatment”, will take place virtually on the 7-10th of June 2022.

It will include four sessions with cutting-edge scientific talks in the field of personalised phage therapy, including (1) therapeutic monitoring, (2) immune response to bacteriophages, (3) formulation and administration of bacteriophages for therapy, and (4) current state and prospects of oral phage therapy.

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phageSuisse: toward phage therapy in Switzerland

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PhD Candidate
University of Zurich

phageSuisse is a non-profit organization from Switzerland. One of our goals is to inform health authorities, politicians and the population about the use of bacteriophages for human therapeutic purposes.

For this we have launched a small webinar series in 2020-2021, and we will provide you with a short recap of four sessions. All events can be found on our website.

Fundamental aspects of bacteriophage research

“Temperate bacteriophages and the evolution of the Staphylococcus aureus lineage 398”

Link to the paper

Speaker: Dr. Floriane Laumay, Genomic Research Laboratory, Infectious Diseases Service, Geneva University Hospitals, Switzerland / Institut des Agents Infectieux, Centre de Biologie du Nord, Hospices Civils de Lyon, France

After a brief introduction about the history of bacteriophages, Dr. Laumay gave us an overview about the different types of bacteriophages, the lytic and the temperate phages. We also received a summary about the evolution of Staphylococcus. aureus species during the last 15 years.

She presented the impact of prophages on the virulence by characterized S. aureus strains. The virulence was measured by the adhesion to human fibrinogen, fibronectin, invasion of human non phagocytic cells (HEK 293) and finally in vivo with a rat endocarditis model.

During her talk Dr. Laumay showed the impact that temperate bacteriophages have on the virulence of bacteriophages and warned about the complete characterization of phage cocktails to avoid the presence of temperate bacteriophages within virulent phages.

phageSuisse meets industry

Link to the webinar

“Industrial production of bacteriophages”

Speaker: Dr. Frenk Smrekar - CEO Jafral

Jafral focuses on the production of phage-based products for various (GMP and non-GMP) applications for food industry, cosmetics, veterinary and human therapeutics. Dr. Smrekar gives insights into the bacteriophages industry. Jafral is certified for production of cell, banks, phage banks, drug substances, drug products and placebo.

“ε2-Phages Are Bred to Improve the Standard of Care for Staphylococcal Infections”

Speaker: Dr. Lorenzo Corsini - CEO Phagomed

Phagomed develops targeted antimicrobials for treating chronic persistent diseases based on bacteriophages and endolysins. The therapeutics are developed on the base of a synthetic biology platform. Dr. Corsini presents current drug candidates for Staphylococcus aureus infections. The approach allows for patenting of bacteriophages.

Clinical research and case reports

“Moving clinical trials for phage therapy forward”

Speaker: Dr. Shawna McCallin, Clinical Coordinator, Department for Neuro-Urology, Balgrist University Hospital, Zürich, Switzerland

Currently, we use antibiotics to treat bacterial infections in humans. Bacteriophages are very different from antibiotics. They are self-amplifying, host dependent and have a high diversity. Bacteriophages have a long clinical history especially in states of the former USSR, e.g. Russia, Poland and Georgia. However, western regulatory authorities have yet to approve any bacteriophage preparations.

Bacteriophage therapy seems to be “stuck” between phase II and phase III studies. We hear more and more success stories of bacteriophage treatments of bacterial infections in case studies, but (successful) clinical trials are ultimately needed.

To bridge this gap, Dr. Shawna McCallin presents what is missing in clinical trials for the approval of bacteriophages. The local bacterial epidemiology should be explored thoroughly. It is also important to clearly define the population and indication specification for correct site selection. Newly developed adaptive designs for clinical trials are a possibility, however, they need clear rules and a strong statistical plan. Treatment effects and design characteristics, such as inferiority or superiority design, play a huge role in designing clinical trials. For this, it is important to be aware of the accurate estimate of control or placebo effect to conduct correct power calculations. To ensure overall feasibility, make sure that all methods have been validated and try to use validated clinical effect symptom severity scales. Currently, many clinical indications do suffer from an imperfect understanding.

To track individual treatments, an International Database for Phage Therapy for the report case studies has been developed. Expectations are high, and we need to keep them realistic!

"Clinical use of bacteriophages”

Link to the webinar (in French)

Speaker: Prof. Tristan Ferry Infectious and Tropical Diseases Unit, Croix-Rousse Hospital , Hospices Civils de Lyon, Lyon France

Prof. Tristan Ferry presents the activities of the Infectious and Tropical Diseases Department of the Croix-Rousse Hospital. The experience is accompanied by the testimony of his patient François d’Aviau de Piolant who treated with bacteriophages following a multi-resistant endocarditis.

Learn more

Head to the phageSuisse website to learn more about the organization!

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Thank you to our volunteers, Steph Lynch and Atif Khan, for finding and summarizing links for C&T this week!

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