Viruses that hunt bacteria

Bacteriophages, phages for short, are viruses that exclusively infect and kill bacteria. Phage therapy, using phages to kill pathogenic bacteria, is an alternative to antibiotics that has been practiced on a small scale for almost 100 years. With the global surge in antibiotic resistance and modern advances in cheap genetic sequencing and engineering, phage therapy is experiencing a renaissance.

Unlike antibiotics, phage therapy only kills the specific species of interest and has minimal side effects.

For more information on what we do, see our interview on Phage Therapy Today:


Bacteria (and their phages) that live in South Florida

Mycobacterium abscessus is an opportunistic environmental pathogen that can cause debilitating pulmonary infections, especially in people with underlying health conditions like Cystic Fibrosis, people who had solid organ transplants, and people over the age of 70.

Due to its thick cell membrane, M.abscessus is naturally resistant to most antibiotics and has the ability to acquire resistance to new antibiotics as well. As a result, treatment for M.abscessus involves using multiple last-line antibiotics for at least 9 months at the cost of over $100,000. The antibiotics usually fail to eradicate the infection, leading to re-treatment within a few years.

Image Credit: Generated by Dall-e

Image Credit: Generated by Dall-e

Phage therapy recently successfully treated a 15-year-old patient with M.abscessus infection, but the field suffers from a lack of known phage species. There are more than 20,000 known phage species, but less than 10 of them are known to infect M.abscessus.

Phages live where their prey lives, and M.abscessus is more prevalent in South Florida than anywhere else in the US. By intelligently selecting and screening thousands of soil and water samples around our home base in Miami, we will discover brand new phages that efficiently infect and kill M.abscessus.


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