Frontiers in Antimicrobial Agents

Bacteriophages as Antibacterial Agents: Why are We Facing an Antibiotic Crisis and How Could Bacteriophages be of Help?

Author(s): Jean-Paul Pirnay, Gilbert Verbeken, Mario Vaneechoutte, Serge Jennes, Maya Merabishvili, Isa Serrano and Daniel De Vos

Pp: 10-32 (23)

DOI: 10.2174/9781681081403115010005

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


Bacteriophages are viral, natural and bacterio-specific entities. As a major part of the biosphere, they were involved in the origin of life. They still play an essential role in evolution and are highly involved in the development of molecular biology. In the issued biotechnology industry, they are promising as a sustainable antibacterial. Felix d’Hérelle, one of the discoverers of bacteriophages, first proposed “(bacterio) phage therapy” in the early 20th century. At the Eliava Institute in Tbilisi, Georgia it was further developed and it is still used in medical practice in all the former Soviet Republics. The Western world, with the advent of antibiotics, almost forgot phage therapy.

The antibiotic resistance crisis placed phage therapy again in the spotlights. The main problem today is the lack of evidence based therapeutic phage studies in accordance to modern standards as well as the lack of an adapted phage therapy regulatory frame. Initiating clinical studies in this context is difficult. Phage therapy is sporadically applied today, although under specific conditions like the Helsinki Declaration and/or specific national regulatory frames (Poland). This impedes clinical application and scientific progress.

However, several groups setup animal and human studies, while the idea of using bacteriophages as antibacterial is already applied in the food industry. In the clinic application seems imminent. Several issues, also from the fundamental scientific perspective, still need to be tackled while practically an adapted regulatory frame is urgently needed.

Keywords: Antibiotic crisis, Antibiotic resistance, Bacterial host, Bacteriophage, Diarrhoeal diseases, Eliava Institute, Escherichia coli, Food and Drug Administration, Holins, hormesis, Listeria monocytogenes, Phage cocktail, Pharmaceutical industry, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Public health, Regulatory obstacles, Safety, Seed lots, Staphylococcus aureus, Therapy.

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