Prevention Rather Than Cure
Beatrice Allain, Ph.D., director of phage technologies at Biophage explained, “We identified lytic phages specific to pathogenic bacteria. Lytic phages did not integrate into the host DNA and lyze only bacterial cells, not mammalian cells. When targeted pathogenic bacteria are not present in the body, lytic phages are rapidly eliminated without toxic effects, thus they could be safely used as antibacterial therapies or as disinfectants.”
There have been no negative effects reported with the use of lytic phages over the past 80 years, according to Dr. Allain, and the FDA and EU have approved the use of phages as food additives as well as the use of E. coli and Salmonella phages on live animals.
The company was initially concentrating on E. coli and Salmonella infections in swine and poultry and is now also focusing on nosocomial infections and has phages for MRSA. “We have a codevelopment program with Montreal Sacre Coeur Hospital where we hope to break the transmission chain of MRSA. Several phages, that infect and destroy MRSA strains found at the hospital yet do not infect nonpathogenic gut E.coli have been identified.
“We will conduct proof of concept studies using phages for equipment decontamination. We also believe phages have massive potential as natural and ecological treatments against superbugs,” said Dr. Allain.
Another novel strategy to combat resistant infections is Ipsat Therapies’ idea of using a b-lactamase enzyme in conjunction with a b-lactam-based antibiotic.
Kaarela explained that “taking an antibiotic always changes patients’ gut microflora and can lead to acquiring an additional infection or acting as a reservoir to infect others. If we give b-lactamases at the same time as a b-lactam antibiotic, it will inactivate any unused antibiotic in the gastrointestinal tract, thus maintaining the gut microflora and helping to prevent colonization by resistant or pathogenic bacteria.”
To prove this theory, Kaarela presented data on five clinical studies of its lead b-lactamase product, P1A, which showed that of 99 patients treated with P1A and ampicillin, P1A did not produce serious adverse events and did not change the clinical effectiveness of ampicillin.
In a Phase IIb study of 112 patients treated with ampicillin for serious respiratory infections, the 54 patients treated with ampicillin and P1A had a 20% change in gut flora compared to 50% in those treated with ampicillin alone.
There was also a 12% increase in ampicillin-resistant coliforms in those treated with P1A and ampicillin compared to an 80% increase in ampicillin resistant coliforms in those treated with only ampicillin. “If we can reduce the number of secondary infections from 10 to 3 percent using P1A with piperacillin/tazobactam antibiotic, which the Phase II study is now targeting, we could potentially reduce treatment costs of secondary infections by 50 percent,” concluded Kaarela.