On April 26, 2017, Adaptive Phage Therapeutics, Inc. (APT), a clinical-stage company founded to provide an effective therapeutic response to the global rise of multi-drug resistant (MDR) pathogenic bacteria, announced that a therapeutic approach leveraging bacteriophage (phage), as outlined in 2003 by NIH Emeritus Scientist, Carl R Merril, MD, (Merril, et al, Nature Reviews; Drug Discovery, 2003) had been used by the University of California-San Diego Medical Center to successfully rescue a terminally ill patient (Tom Patterson) infected with multidrug resistant Acinetobacter baumannii (MDRAB). A detailed story on the use of phage therapy to treat MDR pathogenic bacterial infections was published in the December 25, 2017 issue of Time Magazine (http://time.com/5068513/superbugs-are-nearly-impossible-to-fight/). Titled “Superbugs Are Nearly Impossible to Fight. This Last-Resort Medical Treatment Offers Hope” and authored by Alexandra Sifferlin, the Time story outlines the history of phage-based therapies, which actually dates back almost to the time phage were first discovered (just over 100 years ago). That history is fraught with controversy and mixed results, but great progress in molecular biology and, particularly, the very recent success in the treatment of Tom Patterson, have rekindled interest and hope in this approach to therapy to fight deadly MDR bacterial infections. The Time story also describes the very recent phage-based effort to save the life of 25-year-old Mallory Smith, a cystic fibrosis patient who was in critical condition with a drug-resistant Burkholderia cepacia infection. According to Time, after being notified of Mallory’s plight, APT identified a phage that might be able to kill the bacteria and shipped the virus to the University of Pittsburgh hospital where Mallory was being treated.
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