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First-Of-Its-Kind Technology Platform Leverages Bacteriophages to Tackle Critical and Life-Threatening Infections

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 16 Jun 2023
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Image: A world-first technology platform mobilizes natural power of bacteriophages to tackle serious infections (Photo courtesy of Freepik)
Image: A world-first technology platform mobilizes natural power of bacteriophages to tackle serious infections (Photo courtesy of Freepik)

The escalating global health crisis of antimicrobial resistance, referred to as 'the silent pandemic', is predicted by the World Health Organization (WHO) to account for 10 million deaths per year by 2050. Recognized by the WHO as one of the top 10 global health threats to mankind, drug-resistant infections have already caused more than 5 million deaths worldwide. Now, a world-first technology platform that leverages the innate power of bacteriophages, viruses that infect and destroy bacteria, to eliminate critical and life-threatening infections marks a significant medical breakthrough for countering the global threat of antimicrobial resistance.

Bacteriophages, also called phages, are naturally occurring viruses that have been battling bacteria throughout evolution. They are capable of infiltrating and destroying bacterial colonies with unerring precision. While phages have been deployed in human treatments for over a century, their full medical potential remains untapped. PHIOGEN (Houston, TX, USA) has developed an innovative platform that capitalizes on the successes of personalized phage therapy. PHIOGEN is a spin-off company from Baylor College of Medicine’s TAILOR Labs (Houston, TX, USA), one of the United States' only academic phage therapy cores with a decade’s worth of revolutionary research related to bacteriophages. PHIOGEN’s innovative platform leverages the successes of personalized phage therapy. The platform empowers PHIOGEN to identify unique phages with targeted neutralizing abilities, evolve hyper-lytic phages to counter resistance and test them in high-throughput biological models. The result is cultivated antimicrobial solutions that successfully productize bacteriophages to enhance clinical outcomes.

PHIOGEN has developed the world's only bacteriophage mass capture device, allowing the company to undertake phage reconnaissance missions, and collect and filter billions of phages from their natural environments, thereby reducing sample collection time from four days to just under four hours. PHIOGEN’s proprietary first-of-its-kind technology platform can discover and screen naturally occurring bacteriophages on a large scale, identifying those with superior bacterial combat abilities. It can then facilitate biological changes to evolve these phages into antimicrobials capable of overcoming resistance. This enables the creation of treatments for large populations rather than individual patients. By refining nature's guardians, PHIOGEN has developed extraordinary phage treatments that have already successfully saved numerous lives in FDA-approved compassionate use cases.

“Nothing about our treatments is fabricated, it boils down to creating natural environments that mimic real-life infections, driving biological changes to create "super phages” against the superbugs,” said Amanda Burkardt, CEO at PHIOGEN. “As a result, we receive high-performing phage fighters that are trained and ready to deliver safe and effective treatments for clinical applications.”

“Our patented technique of evolving the natural fighting power of bacteriophages creates a new paradigm in phage therapy where natural lytic cocktails carry the same advantages as fully synthetic phage and can be used to treat entire patient populations,” added Burkardt.

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Baylor College of Medicine 

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