Viruses successfully fight a severe bacterial infection

Phage treatment was successful in 11 of 20 patients with no side effects. Success of therapy was unclear in five patients and there was no improvement in four patients. Each of these patients was infected with one or more strains of mycobacteria, which cause treatment-resistant infections that are often fatal in people with weakened immune systems or with cystic fibrosis of lung disease. In some patients, the immune system attacked phages, but only occasionally rendered them ineffective. Sometimes the treatment was successful despite the immune response, reports a research team in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

“These infections are a doctors’ nightmare: they are less common than other types of infections, but they are among the most difficult to treat with antibiotics. Especially when antibiotics have to be taken over a long period of time, they are not very well tolerated, “explained Prof. Graham Hatfull of the University of Pittsburgh. It is therefore not surprising that since 2019 his team has received more than 200 requests from other doctors seeking treatment for their patients. Together they then look for phages that could be effective against those patients’ bacterial strains. “These are incredibly courageous doctors who are carrying out an experimental therapy to help their patients who have no other option, “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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