Sunday, December 06, 2009

Bacteriophage Therapy History (Part 3)

Use of phage therapy in the USA declined drastically with the advent of antibiotic therapy. But this was not the case in Eastern Europe. The Eliava Institute, founded in 1923 in Tbilisi, Georgia, by Giorgi Eliava, continues to this day to research phage therapy. In fact, there is a Phage Therapy Center to this day in the Republic of Georgia that takes patients for phage therapy treatment.

There are hundreds of published research reports on phage therapy. A large number of these are to be found in non-English journals published in the former Soviet Union and Poland. Stefan Slopek, of the Laboratory of Bacteriophages, Institute of Immunology and Experimental Therapy, Polish Academy of Sciences, Wroclaw, published a series of papers in the 1980's, on the effectiveness of phage therapy against infection with several different bacterial pathogens including multi-drug resistant bacteria. A review of the work was published by Slopek in 1987. Slopek reported that of 550 patients treated with phage therapy, "positive results were found in 508 cases (92.4%)". Most of these cases were infections with drug resistant bacteria.

More recently, at the same Institute in Poland, Gorski reported that "1307 patients with suppurative bacterial infections caused by multidrug-resistant bacteria of different species were treated with specific bacteriophages (BP)". And that, "BP therapy was highly effective; full recovery was noted in 1123 cases (85.9%)".

Reports concerning phage therapy of staphylococcal infections of the lung, sepsis in newborns, urinary tract infections, infections of surgical wounds, and eye infections have been published. Unfortunately, in many cases the trials were not completed in a manner to allow rigorous evaluation of the results.

Research on phage therapy does continue in the USA. In fact, rather than using the whole phage virus which can be attacked by the human immune system and in some cases by the bacteria themselves, a phage lysin can be used to attack the bacterial cell wall.

More information about phage therapy can be found at this Evergreen International Phage Biology Meeting website. An extensive list of the phage therapy literature can be found here.

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