Phage Futures Congress 2020

Welcome to our Live Blog of Phage Futures Congress 2020! Keep an eye on this page throughout the event for quotes, updates, highlighted tweets, the agenda, and more!

Venue address:
Hilton McLean Tysons Corner, 7920 Jones Branch Drive, McLean, VA, 22102-3308

Live Blog

Speaker
3:30 pm, Feb 6, 2020
Phage therapy as commercial entity: what does IP protection look like phage treatments
Michele Wales, Principal, Inhouse Patent Counsel LLC
  • Exploring the IP options available to protect phage and phage products in human applications
  • Detailing the difference in protection opportunities between fixed phage cocktails and the personalised approach
Event
4:00 pm, Feb 6, 2020
Networking Break
Panel
4:20 pm, Feb 6, 2020
Market access and commercialisation: identifying milestones to de-risk phage therapy for greater hospital implementation, including Pharma protocols, IP protection and reimbursement strategies
Panelists include:
Michele Wales, Principal, Inhouse Patent Counsel LLC
Dr Bob Blasdel, Research Director, Vesale Pharma
Scott Walker, Principal Scientist, Merck & Co, Inc
Moderator: Dr Carrie-Lynn Langlais Furr, Cofounder, Consultant & CEO, Bacteriophage & Drug Development Consultants, LLC
Event
5:00 pm, Feb 6, 2020
Closing remarks and End of Conference
Phage Futures 2020: Day One
8:00 am, Feb 5, 2020
Event
8:00 am, Feb 5, 2020
Registration Opens

What to bring:

  • Your confirmation letter OR a Government Issued ID - Can be either Driver’s License or Passport for Reference
  • Business Cards
  • Business/Business Casual Attire
Session
Plenary Session: Addressing the Unmet Need

Chair: Dr Joe Campbell, Research Resources Project Officer, NIH

Remarks
9:00 am, Feb 5, 2020
Opening Remarks
Speaker
9:10 am, Feb 5, 2020
Administering Phage Therapy in the US: Physicians perspective on phage therapy and thoughts on increasing phage therapy awareness
Dr Gina Suh, Infectious Diseases specialist, Mayo Clinic
Speaker
9:30 am, Feb 5, 2020
Panel: Receiving phage therapy can change a life: insights into the reality living with ineffective treatments for cystic fibrosis and wound infections and the practicalities of receiving phage treatments
Ella Balasa, cystic fibrosis patient advocate and Microbial Ecology Research Laboratory Manager, Virginia Commonwealth University
Dr. Gina Suh, Infectious Diseases specialist, Mayo Clinic
Professor Jonathan Iredell, Professor of Medicine and Microbiology, Westmead Hospital, University of Sydney
Moderator: Dr. Micheal Koeris, CEO, Ares Innovation
Speaker
10:05 am, Feb 5, 2020
Panel: Support: how to leverage public and private backing to efficiently finance Phage Therapy innovation
Michael Higgins, Managing Director, Biopharmaceuticals Equity Research, Ladenburg Thalmann & Co. Inc.
Dr Joe Campbell, Research Resources Project Officer, NIH
Event
10:40 am, Feb 5, 2020
Networking Break
Session
Session A: Phage science essential to disease relevance
Session B: Applying Phage models in supplementary markets
Speaker
11:25 am, Feb 5, 2020
[A] Potential therapeutic utility of phages for Mycobacterium abscessus infections
Dr Rebekah Dedrick, Research Associate (Hatfull Lab), Department of Biological Sciences, University of Pittsburgh
  • There is substantial genomic diversity in a large collection of sequenced mycobacteriophages
  • A case study indicates feasibility of treating mycobacterial infections
    with a phage cocktail
  • Mycobacterium abscessus clinical isolates are diverse in their susceptibilities to bacteriophage infection
  • Potential phage treatments for mycobacterial infections are currently restricted to personalized therapies
Speaker
11:25 am, Feb 5, 2020
[B] Development of a Campylobacter Phage Product to Decontaminate Poultry Meat in Kenya
Dr Tobi Nagel, Founder & President,
Phages for Global Health
  • Campylobacter is the leading bacterial cause of gastroenteritis worldwide, with contaminated poultry meat being a primary source of infection in people.
  • In developing countries Campylobacter is particularly
    detrimental for children under age 2, surpassing all other pathogens — including viruses and parasites — in terms of the frequency of infection.
  • Since Kenya has the highest reported fatality rate worldwide for campylobacteriosis, we are developing a phage product specifically to decontaminate poultry meat in Kenya.
  • In addition to isolating Campylobacter phages from Kenyan sources and optimizing a dry powder formulation for the phages, our team has also engaged extensively with poultry farmers in Kenya to facilitate delivery of a product that will be culturally accepted.
Speaker
11:55 am, Feb 5, 2020
[A] The importance of mammalian promoters in phage toxin genes and other prokaryotic genes
Dr. Leticia Bentancor, Founder,
EMLAB
  • Discover eukaryotic promoter sequences in a number of mammalian genes, including some bacterial toxin genes that have been found in bacteriophage genomes. Promotor sequences that have been tested in-vitro and in-vivo have proven to be functional, either by reporter gene functions in cells in culture, of for toxin production in the cases where the mammalian promoter sequences were found to be associated with bacterial toxin genes.

  • These toxin genes were found to be capable of producing toxins, in cell cultures and when tested, in whole animal experiments (1,2). These results corroborate earlier findings reporting that bacteriophage containing bacterial genes (the galactose-transferase and β-galactosidase genes) were capable of functioning in human cells obtained from individuals with genetic defects in these genes (2,4).

  • Since these initial observations, a number of additional bacterial genes have also been found to capable of functioning in eukaryotic cells including genes transmitted by the Gram-negative bacteria Agrobacterium tumerfaciens that result in the commonly observed plant crown gall tumors (5).

  • While details still lack as to how and where such bacterial genes are transcribed and translated in eukaryotic cells, it is
    apparent that these genes could have both beneficial and well as detrimental effects in the use bacteriophage for:
    antibacterial therapies, vaccines and genetic engineering

Speaker
11:55 am, Feb 5, 2020
[B] The role phage in the agriculture and animal health
Dr Jason Gill, Associate Professor, Bacteriophage Biology & Microbiology, Texas A&M
  • Detailing the importance of genomic tools to assess and determining phage applications within agriculture
  • Thoughts on the phage approaches in companion animals and links to human applications
Speaker
12:25 pm, Feb 5, 2020
[A] Virulent coliphages in 1-year-old children fecal samples are fewer, but more infectious than temperate coliphages
Dr. Marie-Agnès Petit, Director of Research, Inra
  • Bacteriophages constitute an important part of the human gut microbiota, but their impact on this community is largely unknown. To study intestinal Escherichia coli phage-host interactions, phages were isolated from an unselected
    prospective cohort of 1-year-old children.

  • Starting from 900 Escherichia coli strains isolated from these fecal samples, data found that in their majority, these strains were lysogens producing spontaneously phages in the culture supernatant.

  • From the same fecal sample collection, phage cultivation from filtrates containing the virome fractions revealed that in 24% of viromes, coliphages could be isolated, and sequenced.

  • Most phage isolates from these viromes were again temperate (73%), and the rest virulent. However, when tested against a sub-panel of 75 E. coli ‘copsac’ strains, the virulent phages proved highly infectious (up to 68% strains killed), compared to temperate ones.

Speaker
12:25 pm, Feb 5, 2020
[B] Past Meets Present: Innovation Applications Using Synthetic Bacteriophages
Stephen Theriault, CEO and CSO, Cytophage Technologies, Inc
  • The global issue of anti-microbial resistance and how bacteriophages can be a solution.
  • The uses and applications of bacteriophages in many different industries such as agriculture, food safety, human and animal health.
  • Advantages of using genetically modified synthetic bacteriophages
    to help overcome the limitations that naturally occurring bacteriophages have.
Event
12:55 pm, Feb 5, 2020
Networking Lunch
Session
Session A: Emerging phage science
Session B: Alternative applications for phage (and phage products) in human health
Speaker
2:30 pm, Feb 5, 2020
[A] Understanding the human virome research to shape the microbiome
Dr David Pride, Associate Adjunct Professor, IPATH, UCSD

Viruses are the most abundant members of the human microbiome, yet relatively little is known about their role in these diverse ecosystems. Because the majority of identifiable viruses in the microbiome are bacteriophages, they could have substantial impacts upon the ecology of their host bacterial communities.

We have been working to uncover the ecology of phage communities on a number of different body surfaces and have found many phages are highly persistent members of the human microbiome. This suggests that phages may develop dynamic equilibria with some of their hosts that allows both bacteria and phage to persist over time. Some body sites have a high diversity of phages, while others have more limited phage diversity. These differences are reflected in the diversity of the bacterial communities on most body sites, where highly diverse bacterial communities host highly diverse phage communities.

Different body sites belong to separate ecological clusters, in which sites such as the mouth, gut, and bladder represent the high diversity cluster, and have highly similar viruses
across each body site. Low diversity body sites, such as the blood and the central nervous system, represent a low diversity cluster, which also share similar phages. We hypothesize that the presence of these phage communities helps to shape human bacterial communities and are
developing techniques to decipher the impact of phage communities on their host bacterial communities in the human microbiome.

Speaker
2:30 pm, Feb 5, 2020
[B] Development of Phage Mediated Antigen Delivery System for Rapid Vaccine Production
Dr Biswajit Biswas, Chief of Phage Laboratory, US Naval Medical Research Center

Recent global surveillance indicates that infectious microorganisms are emerging at an alarming rate. There is also a significant concern about the potential of generating highly virulent microorganisms using genetic engineering and synthetic biology. Quarantine and rapid vaccination against targeted pathogens are the best ways to prevent epidemics during massive disease outbreaks.

Recently, scientists are evaluating bacteriophages (phages) as vaccine delivery agents. These ideas are gaining popularity because inherently phage vaccine vector (PVV) is a potent immune-stimulator. Additionally, the advancement of biotechnology is also allowing us to modify these PVV particles to produce complex adjuvants which can be used for further enhancement of vaccine potency. Utilizing advanced knowledge in bioinformatics, gene sequencing and phage genetics we have developed a methodology to manufacture vaccines in record time. Genomic and proteomic data of any preexisting or newly emerging pathogenic bacteria or virus can be scanned using existing algorithms and database management system to identify novel antigenic sequences which can be cloned into phage genome to produce various PVVs.

The resulting PVV based vaccines can propagate rapidly using bacteriological media and do not need cell culture or chicken-egg based system for manufacturing sufficient quantities of vaccines to protect against new pathogens; such preparations can be made in weeks rather than months. The PVV particles are non-pathogenic to humans and the resultant vaccines do not require adjuvant. A PVV vaccine can deliver all relevant information to the immune system to allow for an immune response that includes antibody production and the development of immunity to a pathogen. The particulate nature of a PVV attracts APC that engulf, process and present phage mediated antigens through MHCs (class I and Class II pathway) to evoke both cell mediated and humoral immunities. It was expected that PVV, as an extracellular antigen, will only activate antibody production through an MHC class II biased-pathway, but it has been shown that PVV, as a particulate antigen, can access the MHC I pathway through cross priming and activate a cellular immune response. In addition, the immunostimulatory unmethylated CpG motifs of the phage genome are recognized by the innate immune cells through Toll-like receptors (TLR), which further enhance immunity. Vaccinologists have also explored the oral delivery route of PVV vaccination, and demonstrated an antigen specific response. PVV particles are also stable at room temperature. These results indicate the possibility of oral delivery of PVV particles in developing countries.

Speaker
3:00 pm, Feb 5, 2020
[A] Utilizing phage to treat chronic condition such as acne, IBD and cancer
Dr. Sailaja Puttagunta, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, BiomX (talk given by Dr. Michael Koeris)
  • BX001 – a phage therapy for acne prone skin
  • Treating pathogenic targets in IBD and liver disease
  • Synthetically engineered phage modulating th
Event
3:30 pm, Feb 5, 2020
Networking Break
Discussion
4:00 pm, Feb 5, 2020
Interactive Small Group Disussions: The process of obtaining phage productions for the masses.
  • Clinical including safety surrounding phage use
  • Commercial phage sourcing: channels for phages to make it into the clinical
    pipeline (licensing, R&D, academic vs SME, etc.)
  • How do we systematically catalogue genomic and biological data collected on new phages
  • Phage Diagnostic methods
  • Phage marketing
  • Academic/Industry partnerships
  • Phage matching to indication (including looking patient recruitment)

Moderators include:
Dr Carl Merril, CSO and Founder, Adaptive Phage Therapeutics
Dr Shawna McCallin, Project Leader, PhageForward
Dr Jessica Sacher, Microbiologist & Founder, Phage Directory
Dr Bob Blasdel, Research Director, Vesale Pharma
Dr Gina Suh, Infectious Diseases specialist, Mayo Clinic
Dr. Miguel Barreto-Sanz, Founder, Phages4A
Dr Micheal Koeris, CEO, Ares Innovation

Event
5:00 pm, Feb 5, 2020
Panel Feedback
Remarks
5:30 pm, Feb 5, 2020
Closing Remarks
Event
5:45 pm, Feb 5, 2020
Evening Poster Session and Drinks Reception
Phage Futures 2020: Day Two
8:30 am, Feb 6, 2020
Event
8:30 am, Feb 6, 2020
Registration Opens
Session
Plenary Session: Innovations in Phage Characterisation Tools

Chair: Dr Micheal Koeris, CEO, Ares Innovation

Remarks
8:50 am, Feb 6, 2020
Opening Remarks
Speaker
9:00 am, Feb 6, 2020
Technology to Support Phage Therapy, 100-year Update
Dr Shawna McCallin, Project Leader, PhageForward

In the era of biotech, new characterization and diagnostic methods need to be utilized to bring phage R&D and phage therapy into the current century. Faced with the sheer diversity and number of different phages, a focus should be paid to elaborating minimum characterization criteria and the use of consistent, validated methods to ensure high quality control and comparability – including genome analysis, standardized host range panels, and genetic safety determination. Innovation through validation and standardization will help legitimize phages and will require a switch from using the myriad of methods and pipelines currently used to perform these tasks. The ability to store, access, and compare data over time should be built into processes for phage products to support data-driven decision making and increase traceability.

Artificial intelligence holds potential to both support current methods and create entirely new tools for phage applications in the 2020s.

Speaker
9:30 am, Feb 6, 2020
PhageAI: Machine Learning tool for determining Phage Virulence
Matthew Louis Tebeau, COO, Proteon Pharmaceuticals
  • Utilising artificial intelligence to provide a platform that serves both as a repository of knowledge about phages and as a classifier to determine phage virulence with. Proteon have developed an algorithm was created based on combination of biological knowledge, Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning. The tool will be made available to the phage community.

  • As a result, having only a sequence of a phage genome and uploading it to the database, a user can determine within a few seconds whether a phage is virulent or temperate with a high probability. Moreover, a designed interface enables users to browse, upload and share data with others.

Speaker
10:00 am, Feb 6, 2020
Phage for the masses: Using phages as a global health intervention in low- and middle-income countries
Dr Mimi Yen, CEO, PhagePro
  • In low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), the threat of antibiotic resistance is growing at an alarming rate. Widespread ease of access has increased antibiotic consumption rates and clinical misuse. These regions are also more likely to lack clean water and have issues with sanitation and hygiene, contributing to high numbers of diarrheal disease. LMIC are balancing the burdens of infectious and noncommunicable diseases, stretching their already low resources. Phages provide an affordable, convenient alternative to prevent and treat bacterial diseases, particularly in areas where logistical infrastructure is poor.

  • PhagePro has developed a phage cocktail, ProphaLytic-Vc (PVC), that is targeted towards the causative agent of cholera Vibrio cholerae. Cholera is an acute diarrheal disease that causes rapid dehydration; death can occur as quickly as 12 hours. In addition to being endemic in 51 countries, cholera epidemics often occur in the aftermath of natural disasters or during humanitarian crises such as war. It is rapidly becoming extensively drug resistant, in part due to the use of antibiotic prophylaxis as a way to contain the outbreaks. PVC is intended as an antibiotic alternative to provide immediate protection for those most at-risk for cholera, including household contacts in endemic settings and refugee camps in epidemic settings. To be of most use, PhagePro is developing PVC as a solid formulation to be stable in hot and humid conditions, easing the burden of cold-chain logistics for mass distribution in emergency conditions.

  • Phages have the potential to be transformative global health interventions, if the context for their use in LMIC is taken into account during product development. With a disproportionate number of antibiotic-resistant-related deaths predicted to occur in LMIC, phages are uniquely suited as a solution to this public health threat.

Event
10:30 am, Feb 6, 2020
Networking Break
Speaker
11:00 am, Feb 6, 2020
Microencapsulated Bacteriophage Formulations for the Treatment of Wound Infections: Stable, Effective, and Field Deployable Delivery Systems
Dr Nancy Tawil, Chief Scientific Officer, Phagelux Inc.
  • Two and a half million pressure ulcers are treated in the United States annually in acute care facilities alone. Pressure ulcers prevalence in health care settings can reach up to 72.5%. In the US, pressure injury care is estimated at 11.6 billion USD annually, with cost of individual patient care ranging between 500$ and 152,000$.

  • Pressure ulcers are highly susceptible to become infected due to the presence of ischemia. Ulcer wounds susceptible to opportunistic multi-drug resistant infections (MDR) can result in delayed treatment, septicemia, osteomyelitis, amputation, and death.

  • Incorporating bacteriophage cocktails into a microencapsulated delivery system offers many potential benefits. The microencapsulation technology increases the circulation time of phages, decreases systemic clearance, protects the phages from enzymatic or acidic degradation and offers a controlled release of the phages.

  • The production of stable, non-toxic, and biodegradable sprays with prolonged release properties, constitutes a novel approach for the safe translation of bacteriophages to the clinic.

Speaker
11:30 am, Feb 6, 2020
Optimization of process development for the GMP manufacturing of phage therapy products copy
Dr Françoise Aubrit, Head of Process Development, Clean Cells
  • In the recent years, Clean Cells have been involved in different phage manufacturing projects including the PhagoBurn project launched in 2013. Phagoburn project was the first controlled clinical trial performed according to both Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Good Clinical Practices (GCP). To fulfil this program, numerous GMP preparations of purified bacteriophages targeting Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa were prepared and characterized.

  • Manufacturing of these first bacteriophage clinical batches provided the opportunity to identify critical parameters that need to be considered at the earliest stages of development of bioprocesses. These experiences led Clean Cells to the elaboration of a well-structured strategy for the process development steps. Production of drug products based on bacteriophages brings new challenges to manufacturers and the availability of appropriate tools and analytical methods is key for the development of reliable, robust, fast and
    cost-effective bioprocesses.

Speaker
12:00 pm, Feb 6, 2020
Scalable manufacturing of high purity phages and their formulation and encapsulation for targeted delivery and controlled release suitable for bacteriophage therapy
Dr Danish Malik, Senior Lecturer, Chemical Engineering Department, Loughborough University
  • Optimised upstream production of bacteriophages
  • Downstream purification for endotoxin reduction
  • At-line tools for process monitoring
  • Micro- and nanoencapsulation of bacteriophages for targeted delivery and controlled release.
Event
12:30 pm, Feb 6, 2020
Networking Lunch
Session
Regulation and Clinical Advancements
Speaker
1:45 pm, Feb 6, 2020
Production of high quality purified bacteriophages for usage in clinical trials or for personalized approach
Dr. Frenk Smrekar, CEO, JAFRAL
Session
Switching the focus to INDs while treating the unmet need: what are the current regulations on phage therapy, can expanded access cases play a role?
Speaker
2:20 pm, Feb 6, 2020
Working through industry accepted clinical designs for recombinant phage
Dr Nick Conley, Principal Scientist, Locus Biosciences
  • Discussion of the clinical development of our lead asset in UTI
  • Discussion of the design, results, and sensitivity observed from our Phase 0
  • Discussion of the design of our Phase I
Speaker
2:50 pm, Feb 6, 2020
Practicalities of phage clinical trials: biotech’s perspective
Dr Heather D. Jones, M.D., Vice President, Clinical Development, Armata Pharmaceuticals, Inc
Dr Nick Conley, Principal Scientist, Locus Biosciences
Dr. Sailaja Puttagunta, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, BiomX
Dr Cara Fiore, Microbiologist, FDA

Moderator: Dr Carrie-Lynn Langlais Furr, Cofounder, Consultant & CEO, Bacteriophage & Drug Development Consultants, LLC

Explore industry thoughts about dosing protocols, formulation quality control and securing patients for progressing phage therapy

Speaker
3:30 pm, Feb 6, 2020
Phage therapy as commercial entity: what does IP protection look like phage treatments
Michele Wales, Principal, Inhouse Patent Counsel LLC
  • Exploring the IP options available to protect phage and phage products in human applications
  • Detailing the difference in protection opportunities between fixed phage cocktails and the personalised approach
Event
4:00 pm, Feb 6, 2020
Networking Break
Panel
4:20 pm, Feb 6, 2020
Market access and commercialisation: identifying milestones to de-risk phage therapy for greater hospital implementation, including Pharma protocols, IP protection and reimbursement strategies
Panelists include:
Michele Wales, Principal, Inhouse Patent Counsel LLC
Dr Bob Blasdel, Research Director, Vesale Pharma
Scott Walker, Principal Scientist, Merck & Co, Inc
Moderator: Dr Carrie-Lynn Langlais Furr, Cofounder, Consultant & CEO, Bacteriophage & Drug Development Consultants, LLC
Event
5:00 pm, Feb 6, 2020
Closing remarks and End of Conference

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