According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), antibiotics resistance is one of the biggest global threats to public health.
Bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are currently on the rise.
In addition, some bacteria form a biofilm on medical equipment (e.g. joint prostheses), so that they can shield themselves from the immune system and antibiotics. Especially for (chronic) infections caused by (multi-)resistant bacteria, treatment options are limited and often result in drastic measures that can have a catastrophic impact on the patient (e.g. amputation of the limb involved).
Even with adequate treatment, these infections are associated with a high mortality rate, and put a very high financial burden on healthcare. Even though new types of antibiotics are currently being developed, it is still expected that the supply of new antibiotics in the future will not meet the need.
What's more, because of the low return-on-investment and the risk of fast resistance development, the motivation of the pharmaceutical industry to do further research in this field is fairly limited. Scientists are therefore urgently looking for antimicrobial alternatives, such as bacteriophage therapy.
Bacteriophage therapy is not a new concept, but has been applied since the start of the 20th century, predominantly in the fight against infections such as dysentery and cholera. The discovery of penicillin at the start of the Second World War meant that in Western Europe bacteriophage therapy receded into the background. This was not the case in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, where the application of phage therapy is still part of standard care today. Because of the problem of antibiotics resistance, in Western Europe the interest in bacteriophage therapy has been on the increase again in recent years .