Phages are they a viable alternative to antibiotics?

Why phages are an alternative to antibiotics?

Why phage-based products or lytic phages themselves could be a better alternative to existing antibiotiques strategies.

  • Phages Based products and Lytic Phages have been identified amongst the top ten best alternatives to Antibiotics.
  • Phage-based compounds are specific to each bacteria strain and could act as a targeted and specific antibiotic.
  • The Lytic phages and the phage-based products can target antibiotic resistant bacteria.
  • Lytic phages can be effective despite bacterial biofilms and they penetrate into the bacteria cysts and any other difficult to access areas.
  • Bacteriophages are part of the natural ecosystem of bacteria; the human body harbours many bacteriophages and there are more and more evidences that bacteriophages play an very important part of the natural microbiome natural regulation.
  • The human body is accustomed to bacteriophages; we can say that nature has already done the work.

The case of borrelia species

We are working on three strategies to fight borrelia spp.

  1. The hunt for borrelia phages from wild ticks: we enrich the tick guts samples and we look for phage (lysognic and lytic) presence
  2. The hunt for borrelia phages from borrelia culture: we use low concentration of antibiotics to induce phages (stressing the bacteria environment) and screen for phages using Transmission Electron Microscope
  3. To engineer phages proteins in killing borrelia: we look for natural phage-encoded compound to can lyse the bacteria. We use some microbiological culture technics to over-express these compounds and then ‘harvest’ it.


A new report published in February 2017 by the World Health Organisation highlights the importance of discovering alternative treatments to antibiotics.

This report is part of an ongoing endeavor to increase awareness of antimicrobial resistance by the World Health Organisation. In response to this report Dr Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Innovation stated, “Antibiotic resistance is growing, and we are fast running out of treatment options.”

The Chief Medical Officer of the UK government, in response to the publication of her report on the threat of antimicrobial resistance and infectious diseases has supported this notion, stating that “Antimicrobial resistance poses a catastrophic threat…”

In chronic infection, bacteria seem to be particularly resistant to antibiotic therapy.

Antibiotic treatments and borrelia spp.

Borrelia spp.: a microbiology background :

  • Borrelia is an obligate parasite with a minimal genome; a main chromosome and 20 or more smaller plasmids
  • Borrelia rely on the host to acquire building blocks
  • Survival forms : Cyst, Blebs, Biofilms & Cell Wall deficient
  • In the human body, glucose is the primary energy source for Borrelia
  • Borrelia in the blood is very low < 100/ml (hiding from the immune system / difficult to detect)
  • Borrelia can be outside human cells or inside human cells, antibody-binding is necessary to locate
  • Intracellular Borrelia can survive inside human cells

– Chronic Lyme Disease and resistance to antibiotics:

Some patients have persistence of profound fatigue, myalgias, arthralgias without arthritis, dysesthesia/paresthesia, and mood and memory disturbances after standard courses of antibiotic treatment for Lyme disease. This constellation of symptoms has been variously referred to as “chronic Lyme disease,” “post-Lyme disease syndrome,” and “post-treatment chronic Lyme disease.” Persistent symptoms have been reported in patients who are seropositive for IgG antibodies against Borrelia burgdorferi as well as in patients who are seronegative. The cause or causes of persistent symptoms in these patients have not been clearly defined and are controversial. Because of the temporal association of these symptoms with infection with B. burgdorferi, some patients have been treated with prolonged courses of antibiotics. Case reports and uncontrolled trials have reported the efficacy of prolonged antibiotic therapy, often with relapse of the symptoms after discontinuation of therapy. (Controlled Trials of Antibiotic Treatment in Patients with Post-Treatment Chronic Lyme Disease
Mark S. Klempner. Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases. July 2004, 2(4): 255-263.)

Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness caused by the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi. Although antibiotic therapy is usually effective early in the disease, relapse may occur whenadministration of antibiotics is discontinued. Studies have suggested that resistance and recurrence of Lyme disease might be due to formation of different morphological forms of
B. burgdorferi, namely round bodies (cysts) and biofilm-like colonies. Better understanding
of the effect of antibiotics on all morphological forms of B. burgdorferi is therefore crucial to
provide effective therapy for Lyme disease.(Evaluation of in-vitro antibiotic susceptibility
of different morphological forms of Borrelia burgdorferi) article:

Could bacteriophages provide an alternative to antibiotics, providing a solution to the problem of increasing antibiotic resistance, one of the largest threats to global health?


Lytic bacteriophage

Lytic bacteriophage : Here is a video showing how bacteriophages can lyse (kill) a bacteria, and thus replace antibiotics.

Alternative to antibiotics