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Benjamin Chan is an Associate Research Scientist in the department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University in the Laboratory of Professor Paul Turner. His research has had him involved in the development of Virulence Targeting Antibiotics (VTA’s) and Resistance Targeting Antibiotics (RTA’s) using bacteriophages.
What is the biggest question facing bacteriophage therapy?
Could phages be utilized to effectively treat bacterial infections? I realize that this is a very basic question but honestly it’s currently the biggest one in phage therapy. They haven’t been tested in rigorous, blinded, controlled, clinical trials in the USA for many applications and so we can’t make any claims about efficacy. We’ve got some really nice looking data from our case series and some published case reports, but they’re all uncontrolled.
Why is it important?
This is important because phages could be a new weapon that clinicians could have at their disposal, should phages go through trials and be shown efficacious. We’ve very few chemical antibiotic options for many infections and new tools are desperately needed.
Where will the answer likely come from?
Answers will come from controlled clinical trials. We’re getting close, but they haven’t been completed yet. Maybe next year the big questions will be different as we address these issues.
IMAGE SOURCE: Dr. Graham Beards/Creative Commons