Viruses successfully fight severe bacterial infections

Phage therapy was successful in 11 of 20 patients without side effects. In five patients the success of the therapy was unclear and in four patients there was no improvement. Each of these patients has been infected with one or more strains of mycobacteria, which cause treatment-resistant infections that are often fatal in people with a weakened immune system or lung disease with cystic fibrosis. In some patients, the immune systems attacked the phages, but only occasionally rendered them ineffective. Sometimes the treatment was successful despite the immune response, according to a research team in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

“These infections are a nightmare for doctors: they are less common than other types of infections, but they are among the most difficult antibiotics to treat. Especially when antibiotics have to be taken for a long time, they are not very well tolerated, “explained Professor Graham Hatfull of the University of Pittsburgh. It is no wonder, then, that since 2019, his team has received more than 200 inquiries from other physicians seeking treatment for their patients. Together, they look for phages that could be effective against the bacterial strains of these patients. “They’re incredibly brave doctors doing experimental therapy to help their patients who have no choice,” Hatfull said. The team continues to work on the great challenge of finding or developing suitable phages for each bacterial strain so that treatment can be considered for all patients.

Sources: DOI 10.1093 / cid / ciac453

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