Defeating antibiotic tolerant pathogens with bacteriophages
Our research aims at learning from bacteriophages how to fight bacterial infections when antibiotics are ineffective.
Viruses infecting bacteria, so-called bacteriophages, are the most abundant and diverse biological entities on earth. They have continuously evolved to be the deadliest predators of bacteria for hundreds of millions of years. Consequently, the therapeutic potential of bacteriophages is increasingly recognized as a powerful alternative to conventional antibiotics.
Chronic infections are highly resilient to antibiotic treatment
Bacteriophages have moved into the spotlight as allies in the fight against antibiotic resistance. However, the treatment of chronic infections often fails not because the bacteria are resistant but rather because they are in a highly drug-tolerant, slow-growing “dormant” state. Our research studies new ways of clearing both antibiotic-resistant and antibiotic-tolerant infections with the help of bacteriophages.
Where antibiotics fail, bacteriophages succeed
Starting from environmental samples, we isolate and characterize bacteriophages with the ability to overpower and kill highly drug-tolerant or -resistant, dormant pathogens. A wide range of techniques is used study the infection of these cells with bacteriophages from a molecular, cellular, and evolutionary viewpoint. Our aim is to understand the long-evolved strategies of bacteriophages to overcome or bypass the obstacles inherent to a dormant bacterial physiology.
Bacteriophages inspire novel strategies for treating chronic infections
We anticipate that unraveling these bacteriophage strategies will highlight previously overlooked Achilles’ heels of antibiotic-resistant and -tolerant bacteria that could guide the development of new therapeutics for chronic infections.