Bacterial pathogens are becoming increasingly insensitive to the use of all groups of antibiotics. Today there are individual cases of bacterial infection in which available antibiotics are no longer effective. This is the motivation to investigate supplements to classical antibiotic therapy. A promising method is the therapeutic use of bacteriophages. These are viruses that exclusively attack bacteria, kill them and are very specific: a phage can only attack a bacterium with a suitable cell surface structure. Until now, phages have been used therapeutically mainly in Eastern Europe and are not offered in Western Europe and Germany, or only to a limited extent.
The project is investigating whether the current biopharmaceutical possibilities allow phage preparations to be individually adapted to the patient in the hospital pharmacy and prepared in time for therapeutic use. The project focuses on wounds on arms and legs infected by multi-resistant pathogens. In the first phase of the project phages will be isolated from different sources, characterized and collected in a phage database. Subsequently, they will be produced in a biotechnological process in such a way that they can be made available in a purified form to the hospital pharmacy as active pharmaceutical ingredient components. The second phase of the project is aimed at the treatment of patients. First, pathogens from a patient’s wound material are typified for phage sensitivity and then a phage preparation tailored to this sensitivity is produced. The project is funded for three years with a total of approx. 2.6 million euros. Duration: 01.04.2019 until 31.03.2022.
The project provides important insights into phage therapy as a supplement to classical antibiotic therapy, especially in cases where patients have undergone antibiotic therapy. If successful, individualized phage therapy could be established as a service provided by the public health insurance.