Phage Forward


Research Network: 2017-01-01 - 2017-12-31
Total sum awarded: €30 000

Antibiotic resistant bacteria represent a major threat to public health and solutions to this problem require actions at several levels of society. This is particularly true for phage therapy, which was initially proposed in the early twentieth century. Following a period of worldwide expansion this treatment option became almost obsolete in western countries before finally being stopped. In France and Germany, phage treatments were still applied during the 70’s while in some eastern countries, especially in Georgia, Russia and Poland it was continuously and successfully used up to present. The biology of bacteriophages (phages), the natural enemies of bacteria, is now much better known and scientifically described than in the past. However, some questions about the safety of phage preparations in the context of their production process and their reproducible efficacies require more intensive research and pre-clinical and clinical studies. Also the diffusion of appropriate documentation about phage therapy towards the public, the medical community as well as other various stakeholders is lacking. Our initiative is to develop an integrated approach to overcome the hurdles that slow down the reintroduction of phage therapy as a regular treatment option and therapy concept for antibiotic resistant infections, focusing primarily on phage-adapted regulation, production and research-based awareness. To realize this, we aim at building on knowledge-based trust and several highly relevant recent publications that have been focusing on phage-adapted production and regulative requirements so that the tangible benefit becomes readily available for the patients who need it.

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  • Thomas Rose, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium (Coordinator)
  • Isabelle Huys, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium (Observer)
  • Laurent Debarbieux, Institut Pasteur, France (Observer)
  • Christine Rohde, DSMZ, Germany (Observer)
  • Andrzej Gorski, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland (Observer)
  • Jean-Paul Pirnay, Queen Astrid Military Hospital, Belgium (Observer)
  • Gilbert Verbeken, Queen Astrid Military Hospital, Belgium (Observer)
  • Maya Merabishvili, Queen Astrid Military Hospital, Belgium (Observer)

Antibiotic resistant bacteria represent a major threat to public health. Phage therapy, the use of bacterial viruses (phages) to combat bacterial infections, is increasingly put forward as an alternative/addition to antibiotic therapy. However, the conventional medicinal product (drug) pathways are developed to cater for static drugs such as aspirin or antibiotics, but are less suitable for sustainable (evolving) page therapy products. As such, there are no phage medicinal products on the Western markets, and very few phages are available to conduct the necessary safety and efficacy studies. PhageForward’s aim was to overcome the hurdles that slow down the (re)introduction of phage therapy in Western medicine. In concrete, PhageForward facilitated a series of meetings, workshops and a scientific publication, which contributed to the awareness that there is a need for an adapted phage therapy regulatory framework and to the elaboration and implementation of such a regulation. This lead to the implementation of a prototype phage therapy framework in Belgium, which is slowly spreading to other EU Member States such as France, Germany and The Netherlands.