Phage Therapy

What is phage therapy?

Phage therapy is the use of bacteriophages (viruses that target bacteria) to treat bacterial infections in humans or animals.

Is phage therapy an approved treatment?

In most countries, no, phage therapy is not an approved treatment. This means sufficient clinical trials have not yet been done to prove that phage therapy is effective. However, even though it is not approved as a medicine, phage therapy can be administered in some countries according to compassionate use, expanded access, or experimental therapy guidelines. These vary according to country, and usually require that a patient has first exhausted all other medical options (ie. has tried all antibiotics that would normally be prescribed for their condition, and none are effective).

If you’re a phage expert, or you run a phage therapy center, please help us add to this page by filling out the form at the bottom of this page or by emailing us suggestions at therapy@phage.directory!

If you’re a physician, we’d love to hear from you about your thoughts, concerns and questions about phage therapy. Please email us at therapy@phage.directory.

Common questions

How do I know if I’m eligible for phage therapy?

If you have a bacterial infection, and it will not respond to antibiotics, you could be eligible for phage therapy. Beyond this, each phage therapy center will have its own eligibility requirements.

How do I get phage therapy?

Phage therapy should always be supervised by a licensed physician, so the most important thing to do if you think you’re a candidate for phage therapy is to talk to your physician about it.

If your physician is willing to consider phage therapy, see below for resources you can pass along, and for information on the general process of experimental phage therapy.

If your physician is not willing to consider phage therapy, you may decide to travel for phage therapy—see below for details on where you can go.

My physician is willing to try experimental phage therapy—what is the general process involved?

  • In most countries, the treating physician will have to contact and work in accordance with the national health regulatory agency‘s expanded access/compassionate use policies.
  • The medical team will need to find out the identity of the bacteria causing the infection, which generally requires that the bacteria causing the infection are cultured by a microbiology lab.
  • The medical team will need to find sources of phages, which usually involves sending the patient’s strain out to one or more phage research labs for phage susceptibility testing on the patient’s isolate.
  • The medical team will need to make a treatment plan and administer the phages.

What resources can I pass on to my physician?

If your physician would like guidance on any part of the experimental phage therapy process, please have them email us at therapy@phage.directory.

What Phage Directory can do to help:

  • Connect your physician with other physicians who have done phage therapy before who are willing to advise.
  • Help your physician with phage sourcing: we can send out a phage alert to our global network of phage scientists and help coordinate this process.

To learn more about how we’ve done this in the past, read:

Traveling for phage therapy

I cannot find a local physician willing to try phage therapy. Where can I travel to get phage therapy?

There are only a few established phage therapy centers in the world, and many patients travel thousands of miles to be treated at these centers.

If you live in (or can travel to) the USA:

  • All phage therapy in the USA is experimental, so to be eligible for phage therapy, you must have a bacterial infection, and all antibiotics normally prescribed for that infection must have been tried, and must have failed to clear the infection.
  • As a first step, look into the Center for Innovative Phage Applications and Therapeutics (IPATH) in San Diego, CA (here is their FAQ page).
  • This center opened in 2018 and has treated several patients with phage therapy.

If you live in (or can travel to) Europe:

Option 1: If you’re able to travel to Tbilisi, Georgia, look into the Eliava Phage Therapy Center (here is their FAQ page and a forum where you can ask questions). This center has decades of experience with phage therapy and treats many foreign patients each year.

Option 2: If you are able to travel to Wroclaw, Poland, look into the Polish Academy of Sciences Phage Therapy Unit in Wroclaw, Poland (here is their FAQ page). This center has decades of experience with phage therapy.

Option 3: If you are able to travel to Brussels, Belgium, you may contact the Queen Astrid Military Hospital at pt@mil.be about the possibility of receiving phage therapy from their hospital. Read our Capsid & Tail article on how the Queen Astrid Military Hospital processes phage therapy requests.

If you live in India:

If you live in India, the best option for you is to contact Pranav Johri at Vitalis Phage Therapy. This organization can help guide you through the phage therapy process and help you acquire phages, even if you are unable to travel outside of India. Read our Capsid & Tail interview with Pranav of Vitalis Phage Therapy.

Are there other resources I can use to better understand the regulations surrounding phage therapy?


DISCLAIMER: We are not physicians, and cannot and do not give medical advice. The information we provide here is intended to help you understand the process of phage therapy a little bit more and to help direct you to professionals who can help you learn whether you are a candidate for phage therapy. All decisions to pursue or proceed with phage therapy must be done under the direct supervision of a licensed physician.

Ask us about phage therapy

We’re working hard to keep our Phage Therapy section updated. If you have any questions or suggestions for us, please email us at therapy@phage.directory or fill out the form below.

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Capsid & Tail

Follow Capsid & Tail, the periodical that reports the latest news in phage therapy and the phage community.

We send Phage Alerts to the community when doctors require phages to treat their patient’s infections. If you need phages, please email us.

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