Hi everyone! Summer is right around the corner (or fall if you don’t live in the Upside Down), and we’ve had some great posts this month. It’s been so great hearing from various labs around the world, and reading about their cool phage work (even though it’s sometimes over my head).
If you’re working on some cool phage research and you want to tell the rest of the phage community, don’t hesitate to email me ([email protected]) or check out the Guest Writer’s Guide! There’s still a couple of more spots left for the rest of the year’s Capsid schedule.
We’re juuust about getting rested from running Evergreen and just about getting caught up with our phage work down here. Jess is up to her neck with ÄKTA phage work, and I’m working on some data upload, management, and cleaning pipelines I can’t wait to share next month. Though the AI hype is real, ChatGPT, Code Interpreter, and OpenAI’s API endpoints have already drastically changed how we design protocols, record data, design databases, write code, etc. With the new GPT-4Vision around the corner (hopefully they’ll release an API endpoint), we’ll have even more superpowers under our fingertips. We’ll cover some of our tips, tricks, and prototypes next month!
But for now, here’s what we covered this month:
by Atif Khan
In the first issue of the month, Atif (who has been helping out on Capsid & Tail for years!) explores the rich history of phage research in India, highlighting the pioneering work of researchers like Ernest Hanbury Hankin and Dr. Felix d’Herelle. He then discusses the resurgence of phage therapy in the face of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and the establishment of The Society for Bacteriophage Research and Therapy (SBRT) and its annual conference, the 4th International Conference on Bacteriophage Research and Antimicrobial Resistance (ICBRAR-2023). The theme is “Phage for Life” and explores phage use in not only therapy but in food preservation, aquaculture, agriculture, and other biotechnological fields. Jessica just gave a talk at ICBRAR last night about Phage Australia’s process, and I’m talking about using AI for data management tomorrow. Come join us!
The conference is happening right now! Register here: https://www.icbrar2023.com/
by Jan Zheng
In this very special issue, we got to share a passage from Tom Ireland’s new book about phages, The Good Virus. This passage highlights the work of Forest Rohwer, a renowned viral ecologist, who has made significant contributions to understanding marine ecosystems and hunting viruses. The passage delves into Rohwer’s research on the diversity and role of phages in coral reefs and their potential in saving these delicate ecosystems — and how that relationships extends to mammals including humans. The writing is warm, approachable and welcoming, and I think would make a great gift to family members who wonder what it is we work with every day. If you’re interested in getting your own copy, there’s two editions, a US Edition and a UK Edition (the UK Edition has a nicer cover… so try to get that one!)
by Matthew Dunne, Samuel Kilcher, Jiemin Du, and Susanne Meile
In this issue, the authors describe a phage-based diagnostic tool and a therapeutic approach for urinary tract infections (UTIs) using engineered phages. They reflect on the development of genetic tools, characterizing phages during lockdown, and their experiences working on the project, which was driven by the clinical need to establish new treatment paradigms for patients with recurrent, drug-resistant bladder infections. The interview-style article goes deep into their techniques to modify their genomes, the use of nanoluciferase as a reporter gene for point-of-care diagnostics, and challenges like determining the ideal effector payload, establishing a Zurich Uropathogen Collection during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is an incredible, technical read for those into the microbiology behind pahges.
by Jessica Sacher
In the last post of the month Jess provides some ideas of how we make our phage therapy process more efficient at Phage Australia, for our personalized phage therapy work. She covers how we scale up phage therapy as a personalized service, and how she set up the minimum viable pipeline for diagnostics, production, quality control, and monitoring. She discusses the division of labor, redundancy, and clear handoff points to ensure efficiency and patient safety. She also highlights the significance of managing expectations, establishing timelines, and holding recurring meetings to facilitate smooth operations. Additionally, she delves into the creation of standard operating procedures (SOPs) and logs to support lab documentation and maintain quality control. This is the second part in a continuing series; in the first part she gave a bird’s-eye overview of our phage therapy service at Phage Australia.
To celebrate ICBRAR’s phage conference this week, we should all take a look at this interview with Pranav Johri, who who went from being an Eliava patient success case to becoming a powerful force for bringing access, diagnostics, and even regulatory pathways to phage therapy India. Here’s our interview: Improving access to phage therapy in India