One of the last remaining bastions for organic chemists in pharmaceuticals is in antibiotic development. It is now under fire from a partnership of academic and industrial microbiologists, who are developing bacteriophages into antibacterial therapies.
A team of researchers headed by Dr. Janet Neal and Prof. Martha Clokie at the University of Leicester demonstrated the antibacterial efficacy of a bacteriophage cocktail developed by AmpliPhi, a California-based biotech. In their larval model, the cocktail worked as a prophylactic to deter Clostridium difficile infections, and when combined the vancomycin, the therapy markedly reduced colonisation. The results have been published in Frontiers in Microbiology.
Prof. Clokie explains,“The results suggest that it may be possible to reduce the threat of C. difficile, and potentially other bacterial infections, through the use of phage both prophylactically to prevent infection, and therapeutically once an infection is established. Phage therapy targets specific pathogenic bacterial populations while sparing the beneficial microbiome.”
Indeed, the specificity of bacteriophages is a key selling point of developing them into a therapy: a major setback of chemical antibiotics is that they do not discriminate between bacterial friends and foes,