April 9, 2019  Print

Professor Jon Iredell from The Westmead Institute for Medical Research will present findings from a new study that demonstrates the safety of bacteriophage therapy in treating life-threatening bacterial infections at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in April.

Phage therapy could potentially be used to fight antibiotic resistant infections

The study marks the first time that humans have intravenously received bacteriophage therapy with Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) approval, which ensures therapeutic goods are of high quality.
Bacteriophage or ‘phage’ is a bacteria-killing virus that could be used to treat antibiotic resistant bacterial infections.

The study investigated the safety and efficacy of AB-SA01, a form of phage therapy, in addition to the patient’s prescribed antibiotics, in a cohort of 13 critically ill patients with life-threatening Staphylococcus infections.

Professor Iredell said the therapy was well-tolerated in patients, and could be a potentially effective weapon in the fight against antibiotic resistance.

“We found that our patients had no adverse reactions to the phage therapy,” Professor Iredell said.
 “Importantly, we also identified a decrease in Staphylococcal DNA load, which tells us that the combination of antibiotics and phage therapy were effective in targeting the bacteria.”

Phage therapy is not a new treatment. Prior to the development of powerful antibiotics, phage therapy was used to treat bacterial infections up until the 1920s.

However, the growing threat of antibiotic resistance means new treatments for life-threatening infections are needed.

“Antibiotics are becoming less effective against bacteria, leading to increasing numbers of life-threatening infections across the world,” Professor Iredell said.

“We need alternate treatments to help combat this threat.

“While more research is needed, it is exciting to see these positive, initial results that demonstrate the effectiveness of phage therapy.”

Professor Iredell will present the study results to an audience of clinicians, researchers, and other experts in microbiology and infectious diseases at the conference, held in Amsterdam.

“I’ll be presenting our findings to demonstrate how phage therapy could potentially be used to treat antibiotic resistant infections to a large group of experts.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to not only share these findings, but to discuss our next steps and where phage therapy can take us.

“We are hoping to pursue a controlled clinical trial that will answer more specific questions about how we can safely and effectively use phage therapy to combat serious bacterial infections, and ultimately save lives.”
Professor Jon Iredell is the Principal Investigator, senior staff for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology consult and is affiliated with The Westmead Institute for Medical Research, Westmead Hospital (WSLHD) and the University of Sydney.

Associate Professor Ruby Lin was the Project Manager and Scientific Lead for the research group.

Dr Aleksandra Petrovic Fabijan was the phage specialist for processing and analysing patient samples.

Dr Sue Maddocks was the senior staff for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology consult.

Ms Josephine Ho was the clinical trial research coordinator.

The team has a number of manuscripts under review.