Bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacteria and archaea in a highly specific manner and are ubiquitous in the biosphere. Based on estimates from seawater studies, there are approximately 1031 bacteriophages in the biosphere, making them the most abundant replicating entities on our planet. Almost immediately after their discovery in 1917, their potential for antibacterial therapy and prophylaxis in humans was recognized and applied. Bacteriophages provide the optimal conditions for this: High specificity, low toxicity, and self-maintaining and amplifying character. Renewed attention to the therapeutic potential of phages reflects growing concern about the emergence of antibiotic resistance and the prospect of a post-antibiotic era. However, modern phage therapy products must compete with today’s antimicrobial drugs, which includes the regulatory requirements for clinical use.
Recently, compassionate use of phages in cases, lacking therapeutic options for serious or life-threatening infections has been used and occasionally published. Although there are currently few reference laboratories for the selection and testing of phages for clinical isolates, on-site testing is particularly advantageous in urgent cases.
Therefore, our group in the Institute of Microbiology and Hygiene at the University Hospital Regensburg is seeking to build capacity based on good science practice and good laboratory practice for such applications of bacteriophages.