The antibiotics couldn’t treat, and these are viruses that have come to their rescue
Two patients with bacterial infections osteoarticular extremely severe have you received, as a compassionate and experimental, treatment by bacteriophages (or phages) in the hospital of la Croix Rousse, Lyon (HCL). Thanks to these virus killers of bacteria, the infection was able to be quickly controlled. A first in France. Discovered in the years 20, the phages fell into oblivion at the turn of the 70’s and 80’s with the advent of antibiotics, more simple to manufacture. Only some countries, such as Georgia and Russia have continued to use them to treat infections.
But with the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the countries of western Europe, phages are now being considered as a possible alternative to antibiotic treatments.
“Every bacteriophage attacking a bacterium specific, ” explains the Pr Tristan Ferry, head of the department of infectious diseases at Hospices civils de Lyon. The virus attaches to the bacterium, penetrates the interior, and where it multiplies.
The bacteria eventually burst and relargue dozens of copies of the original virus”. These specific viruses are found naturally anywhere bacteria live in large numbers, especially in the sewers.
Therapy innovanteLa manufacturing of bacteriophages follows a particular process: “It needs to be put in contact with a phage with the bacterium corresponding, you will get thousands,” says the Pr Ferry. But this is not all: “it is then necessary to withdraw the preparation of the residues of bacteria and toxins,” says the specialist.
A work carried out by the French company Pherecydes Pharma.
In the absence of purification, the bacteria debris could cause serious reactions, equivalent to septicemia. In France, the phages are not considered drugs by the drug Agency (Msna).
It has however given the green light for them to be used in two patients in the Pr Ferry, as compassionate. “The first patient was a sixty-years and was suffering from a metastatic cancer of the lung.
He had a prosthesis at the level of the sacro-iliac joint, that is to say, the basin, which has been infected by a bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
This bacterium was resistant to all antibiotics that we have available”. The doctors then operated on the patient in order to inject the bacteriophage directly to the site of the infection. Six weeks later, the patient had completely healed. “He died shortly after of suites of his lung cancer,” says the Pr Ferry.
The other patient, a woman of 80 years, had an infection by three bacterial species at the level of his hip implant in the last 2 years.
It was since then an antibiotic treatment.
The injection of a cocktail of phages directed against these bacteria has allowed to the patient to cure his infection and walking again. Each year, the Pr Ferry and his team process about 500 cases of bone infection.
In the near future, and in a context where the resistance of bacteria to antibiotics is increasing, the phages may prove to be valuable allies. For the time being, the Pr Ferry and his team already know of other applications for bacteriophages. “Pneumonia is severe, for example, we could inhale phages to patients. They could also be further used to treat infections of prosthesis”. The specialist clarifies, however, that, for the time being, the major difficulty remains to know “what a bacterial species is to the origin of the infection”. Information essential to the selection of the phage.
Another problem: the cost of the treatment, which can reach several thousands of euros per patient. Big Bang Health, Maison de la Chimie in Paris, on October 26, 2017, from 8: 30 to 19 hours ” check out the 2nd edition 2017 .