May 17, 2021
Three million dollars from the NSW Government, Federal Government and industry partners will now go towards establishing “Phage Australia” at the Westmead Health Precinct to step up the fight against antibiotic resistant infections.
The Federal Government announced in the Budget last week it would invest $1 million on top of the NSW Government’s previous commitment of $1.15 million along with additional funds from industry partners.
It’s estimated that by 2050, antibiotic resistant infections are projected to become the leading cause of death worldwide resulting in approximately 10 million deaths annually.
Bacteriophages – also known as phages – are viruses that prey on bacteria and remain completely effective against antibiotic resistant bacterial strains. They offer a last defence against otherwise untreatable infection.
Professor Jon Iredell, Director of WIMR's Centre for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology and Director of the Centre for Infectious Disease and Microbiology at Westmead Hospital and says phage therapy could provide the answer to addressing the rapidly emerging threat to global health of antibiotic resistance.
“Antibiotic resistance is a huge threat to our health system. Without effective treatment against infections, doctors wouldn’t be able to perform life-saving treatments such as transplants or cancer therapy,” Professor Iredell said.
Phage Australia which will focus on the rapid translation of phage therapeutics into clinical practice and explore how phage therapy can be ‘supercharged’ using cutting edge technology.
“Phages are everywhere in nature and there is a more than a century of safety data, but they have been difficult to harness for treatment,” Professor Iredell said.
“Now is the time to be finding safe treatments for serious infections. Phage therapy is both our last resort for antibiotic resistance now and our best hope for the future.”
Phage Australia will be led by Professor Jon Iredell. He is supported by two Deputy Directors – WIMR’s Associate Professor Ruby Lin (Science/Biotechnology) and Dr Ameneh Khatami (Clinical/Therapeutics/Trials) from the Children's Hospital Westmead.
Westmead Health Precinct is one of the largest health, education, research and training precincts in Australia, employing more than 18,000 people across the biomedical, health and life sciences fields. It is being delivered in partnership between Health Infrastructure, Western Sydney Local Health District, Sydney Children’s Hospital Network and the University of Sydney.