Phage therapy can combat Pseudomonas infections in CF patients

Scientists in Cork have identified a novel therapy for the bacteria which cause infections in cystic fibrosis patients.

The research was carried out the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre [APC], a Science Foundation Ireland funded research centre based in UCC, Teagasc Moorepark Research Centre and CIT.

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease which is particularly common in Ireland and results in a build-up of mucous in the lungs of affected individuals.  Very often this mucous can become contaminated with Pseudomonas aeruginosa.  While the care of cystic fibrosis patients has improved dramatically in recent years, these infections remain a very difficult problem to resolve.  They are difficult to treat with normal antibiotics which cannot easily gain access to the bacteria in the lungs. This usually means the patient has to take antibiotics on a continual basis, which can lead to the development of antibiotic resistant superbugs. 

The APC researchers, led by Professor Colin Hill in UCC and Professor Paul Ross in Teagasc, took advantage of a method called phage therapy, which has been practiced in Eastern Europe for decades but has received relatively little attention in the West.  This involves identifying and characterising bacterial viruses [phage] which can attack and kill Pseudomonas aeruginosa within minutes of initial contact.  The phage 'infect' the infecting bacteria and multiply within them, leading to cell death and the release of hundreds of new phage.  One of the advantages of phage therapy is that any viruses which 'find' a target multiply at the target site, generating more viruses and amplifying the therapeutic effect.

The researchers showed that their newly isolated phages could very effectively kill Pseudomonas aeruginosa in situations mimicking real infections, and could eliminate all strains of Pseudomonas isolated from Cystic fibrosis patients.  The research, which involved a collaboration with Professor James Martin of McGill University in Canada, is published in mBio, a high impact journal recently launched by the American Society for Microbiology.

This research is paving the way for the development of new treatments for Pseudomonas infections in cystic fibrosis patients.




  1. Hugh Hugh Ireland says:

    would dearly love to see this come to a clinical trial or some treatment that could impact on PA. Cycles of nebulizers might keep PA at bay but this could be a breakthrough in terms of treatment and improving quality of life.

  2. Bill Riedel Bill Riedel Canada says:

    The problem with phage therapy is that we keep doing the same experiments over and over and over - the science is long conclusive that it works and we need to move to application, even if it is done under legal provisions like in Poland - use it when antibiotics fail. Most countries have such legal provisions.

  3. Drew Drew United Kingdom says:

    The problem with phages are they are the most abundant organism on the planet and cannot be made into a business for these hungry pharmaceuticals! They would rather you were on an expensive £1000 per month drug for 10 years, not getting any better or worse than spend £20 on phages once and curing the patient. They even digitalise the nebulisers now so you can use them ONLY with every drug prescription for fear you will use them for something "that could be damaging" (I think they actually mean something that could work and put them out of business!)
    It needs to be government run for these scenarios, which is why it is used in Russia and Ukrain - not profit organisations, so the their cheap status works for the vulnerable, rather than being hidden by the powerful that could provide a cure for the vulnerable. I have bottles of phages in the fridge and already knocked staph on the head.Pseudomonas is on the way out and I don't think I'll be telling the docs how I did it! Now working on Pseudomonas. I have stopped taking £2000 per month of expensive "pushed" drugs by consultants and going back to something which naturally occurs and has no side effects. NO testing needs to be done it is a done deal already. It is just a smoke screen for the greedy guys.

  4. Peter Symons Peter Symons Australia says:

    Hi drew how did you get the phages. My son ben has cf and colonised with cepacia. He is very unwell and I am desperately trying to find something that might help him. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Regards peter

  5. peter iszatt peter iszatt United Kingdom says:

    I have been looking with interest at the information on the Phage therapy.  My 18 year old daughter  has been ill for  2 years now.  She has been diagnosed with recurrent chest infections from her sputum positive for :

    Pseudomonas,  Klebsiella and Stenotrophomonas  over recent months.  

    She has had oral antibiotics and intravenous antibiotics for these and they have not helped her.  We are told that her immune function is normal and they do not understand why she has these recurrent chest infections which make her feel unwell all the time.  She has been told that when she has an exacerbation she will have to have more intravenous antibiotics and this will be for life. They have also asked her to use a nebuliser with a small amount of antibiotic in it on a daily basis.

    Is it possible that she could be a candidate for the Phage therapy?

    I would appreciate any help or information you can give me and I look forward to hearing from you.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News-Medical.Net.
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