Phage Researchers


The following database provides a curated assembly of articles exploring the development and application of bacteriophage therapy. The focus of research on phage has recently been expanding from studies of molecular biology of a few phages to investigating how to best move a wide variety of phages forward as therapeutic agents helping deal with the rise of bacterial antibiotic resistance and supporting agriculture and food safety. Phage therapy applications began with Felix d’Herelle at the Pasteur Institute in Paris in1919 and and gradually spread around the world. There were many striking successes but even more failures, most of them attributable to the limited understanding of both the bacteria and the nature of their bacteriophage predators. In much of the world, phage were gradually superseded by chemical antibiotics in the 1940s and 1950s, but extensive work and application continue in the Republic of Georgia and Russia and Poland to this day. The vast numbers of people who have been treated with phage there are accepted by many as a stronger indicator of phage safety than could be established by formal clinical trials. However, far more information is needed as to specific treatment protocols and their efficacy before phage therapy can meet Western approval standards. In the United States and Western Europe, phage therapy is now considered investigational, and an IND (Investigational New Drug) application can be filed for with the FDA or its counterpart for compassionate use and clinical investigations. The current system for drug approval is designed for potentially patentable small molecule drugs, rather than for “living”, evolving viruses, which would be difficult to patent. This has proved a cumbersome obstacle to phage therapy research, but one which must be overcome. It is up to researchers in various institutions and countries, medical professionals, and private sector companies to design and run the clinical trials to verify the efficacy and safety of phage as a viable therapeutant to address the increasing problem of antibiotic resistance.