Intralytix, Inc. announced today that it has received a U.S. Army Phase I STTR contract supporting the development of a bacteriophage-based probiotic preparation for managing Shigella infections.
“Shigella species are major gastrointestinal (GI) tract pathogens of particular concern to the US Army, and they are a significant worldwide cause of diarrheal disease,” stated Alexander Sulakvelidze, Intralytix’s Chief Scientist and Principal Investigator for the contract. He added: “The bacterium has been estimated to cause annually about 90,000 food borne cases of shigellosis in the United States, and about 165 million cases worldwide. A vast majority of these cases occur in developing countries (including countries where US troops are stationed), causing approximately 1.1 million deaths annually. The award will enable Intralytix to examine using naturally occurring bacteriophages (or phages) – delivered as part of a probiotic diet – to reduce significantly the incidence and severity of shigellosis. Although currently a novel use of phage, we believe this application fits into the definition of “probiotic” adopted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organization (WHO). We believe that phage-based probiotic may become invaluable for the future management of Shigella and other bacterial food borne illnesses.”
Intralytix’s CEO, John Woloszyn, further added: "In addition to supporting the development of an exciting new product, we believe that the data obtained during the grant will enable us to develop a completely new line of phage-based products for Intralytix’s portfolio.” He added that: "Using bacteriophages as probiotic/nutraceutical products is a novel idea, and our company holds a patent for using phages to reduce bacterial colonization, including colonization of the GI and nasal tracts. If the studies performed during our Phase I project are successful – as we fully anticipate – they will provide a strong basis for moving forward with Phase II grant support from the Army, which will play a major role in bringing this exciting technology and product closer to the marketplace.” Mr. Woloszyn also noted that Army grants have previously supported and continue to support Intralytix’s development of other phage-based products, including food additives that protect food from contamination by E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella and Shigella, and a preparation for treating Acinetobacter baumannii-infected wounds. Finally, he noted that, while the U.S. Army’s Research Office supports the project, such support does not necessarily reflect the position or the policy of the U.S. Government, and no official endorsement should be inferred.