Focus: Antimicrobial Resistance: Inhaled Bacteriophage Therapy for Multi-Drug Resistant Achromobacter

The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine
Year of Publication: 
Winzig F, Gandhi S, Lee A, Würstle S, Stanley GL, Capuano I, Neuringer I, Koff JL, Turner PE, Chan BK

The rise of antimicrobial resistant (AMR) bacteria is a global public health threat. AMR Achromobacter bacteria pose a challenging clinical problem, particularly for those with cystic fibrosis (CF) who are predisposed to chronic bacterial lung infections. Lytic bacteriophages (phages) offer a potential alternative to treat AMR infections, with the possible benefit that phage selection for resistance in target bacteria might coincide with reduced pathogenicity. The result is a genetic “trade-off,” such as increased sensitivity to chemical antibiotics, and/or decreased virulence of surviving bacteria that are phage resistant. Here, we show that two newly discovered lytic phages against Achromobacter were associated with stabilization of respiratory status when deployed to treat a chronic pulmonary infection in a CF patient using inhaled (nebulized) phage therapy. The two phages demonstrate traits that could be generally useful in their development as therapeutics, especially the possibility that the phages can select for clinically useful trade-offs if bacteria evolve phage resistance following therapy. We discuss the limitations of the current study and suggest further work that should explore whether the phages could be generally useful in targeting pulmonary or other Achromobacter infections in CF patients.