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      Phage Therapy in the Postantibiotic Era

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      Clinical Microbiology Reviews
      American Society for Microbiology

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          SUMMARY

          Antibiotic resistance is arguably the biggest current threat to global health. An increasing number of infections are becoming harder or almost impossible to treat, carrying high morbidity, mortality, and financial cost. The therapeutic use of bacteriophages, viruses that infect and kill bacteria, is well suited to be part of the multidimensional strategies to combat antibiotic resistance. Although phage therapy was first implemented almost a century ago, it was brought to a standstill after the successful introduction of antibiotics. Now, with the rise of antibiotic resistance, phage therapy is experiencing a well-deserved rebirth. Among the admittedly vast literature recently published on this topic, this review aims to provide a forward-looking perspective on phage therapy and its role in modern society. We cover the key points of the antibiotic resistance crisis and then explain the biological and evolutionary principles that support the use of phages, their interaction with the immune system, and a comparison with antibiotic therapy. By going through up-to-date reports and, whenever possible, human clinical trials, we examine the versatility of phage therapy. We discuss conventional approaches as well as novel strategies, including the use of phage-antibiotic combinations, phage-derived enzymes, exploitation of phage resistance mechanisms, and phage bioengineering. Finally, we discuss the benefits of phage therapy beyond the clinical perspective, including opportunities for scientific outreach and effective education, interdisciplinary collaboration, cultural and economic growth, and even innovative use of social media, making the case that phage therapy is more than just an alternative to antibiotics.

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          Most cited references121

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          The emergence of multidrug-resistant gram-negative bacteria and the lack of new antibiotics to combat them have led to the revival of polymyxins, an old class of cationic, cyclic polypeptide antibiotics. Polymyxin B and polymyxin E (colistin) are the 2 polymyxins used in clinical practice. Most of the reintroduction of polymyxins during the last few years is related to colistin. The polymyxins are active against selected gram-negative bacteria, including Acinetobacter species, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella species, and Enterobacter species. These drugs have been used extensively worldwide for decades for local use. However, parenteral use of these drugs was abandoned approximately 20 years ago in most countries, except for treatment of patients with cystic fibrosis, because of reports of common and serious nephrotoxicity and neurotoxicity. Recent studies of patients who received intravenous polymyxins for the treatment of serious P. aeruginosa and Acinetobacter baumannii infections of various types, including pneumonia, bacteremia, and urinary tract infections, have led to the conclusion that these antibiotics have acceptable effectiveness and considerably less toxicity than was reported in old studies.
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            Sampling the antibiotic resistome.

            Microbial resistance to antibiotics currently spans all known classes of natural and synthetic compounds. It has not only hindered our treatment of infections but also dramatically reshaped drug discovery, yet its origins have not been systematically studied. Soil-dwelling bacteria produce and encounter a myriad of antibiotics, evolving corresponding sensing and evading strategies. They are a reservoir of resistance determinants that can be mobilized into the microbial community. Study of this reservoir could provide an early warning system for future clinically relevant antibiotic resistance mechanisms.
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              There is an association between the development of antimicrobial resistance in Staphylococcus aureus, enterococci, and gram-negative bacilli and increases in mortality, morbidity, length of hospitalization, and cost of health care. For many patients, inadequate or delayed therapy and severe underlying disease are primarily responsible for the adverse outcomes of infections caused by antimicrobial-resistant organisms. Patients with infections due to antimicrobial-resistant organisms have higher costs (approximately 6,000-30,000 dollars) than do patients with infections due to antimicrobial-susceptible organisms; the difference in cost is even greater when patients infected with antimicrobial-resistant organisms are compared with patients without infection. Strategies to prevent nosocomial emergence and spread of antimicrobial-resistant organisms are essential.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Clinical Microbiology Reviews
                Clin Microbiol Reviews
                American Society for Microbiology
                0893-8512
                1098-6618
                April 2019
                January 16 2019
                : 32
                : 2
                Article
                10.1128/CMR.00066-18
                30651225
                4e5b9ba0-d588-49ec-a2cf-081f98a8e611
                © 2019
                History

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