Multi-drug resistant bacteria
- Therapeutic application of bacteriophages in the
treatment of drug resistant bacteria was evidenced in the treatment of a
critically ill patient
- A mix of bacteriophages was introduced intravenously
and was found to be effective with no side effects
- The phage therapy could be used to control the rampant
spread of drug resistant strains of bacteria
are a major cause of concern among healthcare facilities as they contribute to
an increase in morbidity and mortality, compared to the infections by the
bacteria that can be treated relatively easily with antibiotics. Such bacteria
are also found to increase the period of hospitalization. A research team from
the University of California San Diego School of Medicine along with the U.S.
Navy Medical Research Center has developed a novel method of treating a
critical patient from a multi-drug resistant
. The scientists used bacteriophages,
which are viruses known to engulf specific strains
of bacteria, to treat the infection.
study was presented at the Centennial Celebration of The Institute Pasteur's
Bacteriophage Research by Dr.Biswajit Biswas, Head of the Phage division and
one of the co-authors of the study.
‘Bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacteria which have potential benefit in treating drug resistant bacterial infections.’
Antibiotic Resistant Microbes
to the World Health Organization
antibiotic resistant microbes are one of the greatest threats to global health,
development, as well as for food security. It is estimated that antibiotic
resistant strains of micro-organisms will result in the death of at least 50 million people every year
first author of the study, Dr. Robert Schooley said, that the patient, Tom, was
in a very critical stage and the scientists approached the FDA for approval to
treat the patient with bacteriophages. This is the first known case of a
patient being treated using intravenous injection of bacteriophages.
The Patient History
Tom Patterson, PhD, from UC San Diego School of
Medicine's Department of Psychiatry, contracted an infection while on a holiday
in Egypt, which led to pain, a racing
heartbeat, vomiting and nausea. His condition was diagnosed as pancreatitis
and his condition became worse as
the therapeutic measures used did not offer a cure. A pancreatic pseudocyst was
identified and when the fluid was cultured, it was found that Dr. Patterson was
infected with a multidrug-resistant strain of Acinetobacter baumannii
that were used for treatment included
bacterial isolate that had infected Dr. Patterson was found to be resistant to
all these antibiotics. He developed septic shock as the infection spread and
was on the verge of entering into a coma.
Patterson's wife Dr. Strathdee is the Director of UC San Diego Global Health Institute
and has worked to reduce HIV infection and mortality rates from Afghanistan and
India to Mexico.
estimated 1031 bacteriophages exist and every phage has evolved to infect a
specific strain of bacteria. They do not infect the other cells in an organism.
separate teams of scientists developed purified phage samples which could be
used for therapy
Introduction of Phage Therapy
- The Center for Phage Technology at Texas A&M
- AmpliPhi, a biotech company that specialized in
therapies using bacteriophages
- A research team led by Dr. Forest Rowher from the San
Diego State University
phage therapy is administered orally but as they were meant to address a
complex infection, they were introduced into Dr. Patterson intravenously
who woke up from his coma
within 3 days.
the doctors had been worried about the toxicity caused due to the endotoxins
secreted by the bacteriophages. However, there were no adverse reactions to the
bacteria that infected Dr. Patterson developed resistance to the strain of
phage that was used initially but the scientists altered the phage strains,
some of them isolated from sewers, to improve treatment. Dr. Patterson was completely cleared of A. baumannii
after a few months of
treatment and was discharged from the hospital.
Patterson lost a lot of weight post treatment, as he had been on intravenous
fluid for many months. These effects were not associated with the phage therapy
but physical therapy was required to help regain strength.
phage therapy, every individual would require phage cocktails based on the
specific strains of organisms present, unlike antibiotics. This will pave the
way for personalized medicine.
the use of traditional antibiotics, the following disadvantages could occur
Benefits of Phage Therapy
- Resistance to
the antibiotics, like in this case, could occur.
- These antibiotics could eliminate all gut bacteria,
hampering the digestive process and providing a substrate for growth of
potentially harmful bacteria.
- The drugs could interact with multiple tissues and
cause damage, which lead to side effects.
- The bacteriophages that are used are specific to
certain strains of bacteria and will not affect the other organisms
- The risk of infecting other tissues in the body is
minimal and no known side effects have been identified.
- They are effective against the bacteria and will grow
and multiply in their presence.
have been studied for many years but there have been no reports of anaphylaxis.
Moreover, there have been reports of a positive impact on the immune system of
the host due to the bacteriophages.
resistant strains of bacteria have the potential of leading to large scale
infections, however, the potential use of bacteriophages in the treatment of
such bacteria could be used to control the spread of such infections.
- Antibiotic resistance - (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/antibiotic-resistance/en/)
- Phage treatment of human infections - (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3278644/)