In vitro screening-based selection and in vivo efficacy evaluation of bacteriophages as potential new assets in the topical treatment of Buruli Ulcer disease

Buruli Ulcer (BU) is a NTD caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans infection. The progression of the disease affects primarily the skin but can evolve to more severe clinical presentations as it progresses to soft tissues and bone. The current standard treatment is 8-weeks of daily rifampicin and clarithromycin combined with wound care; though, in severe cases, surgical resection of affected area is required, often associated with debilitating sequelae. In rural communities where access to proper health care is limited, patient care is challenging, and even when antibiotic treatment is successful, poor wound healing often leads to disabilities and stigmatization, including social exclusion. Therefore, novel approaches are desperately needed.
Bacteriophages (also known as phages) are viruses that naturally kill bacteria with much higher specificity than broad spectrum antibiotics. Phages have shown efficacy in controlling infections in pre-clinical and clinical settings, and recent data have demonstrated their potential in dramatically improving wound healing when topically administered in patients with diabetic foot ulcers complicated by opportunistic infections.
Phage therapy is now a leading novel strategy in the fight against antimicrobial resistance (AMR); however, it has yet not yet been utilized for neglected diseases. Thus, we aim to develop a phage-based therapy that could improve the current antibiotic-based treatment for BU. To accomplish this, we have created a consortium that includes leading global experts in the field of BU, phage therapy in mycobacterial infections, and also drug development.

Funding Agency

GSK-Tres Canto Open Lab Foundation

Project Reference

Project Members

Main Project Outcomes

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“Best Paper Award in the M&Ms-2 Challenge”, by M&Ms2 Challenge organizers and the Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Intervention (MICCAI) Society.