From gut phages to fish phages: a recap of September’s PHAVES talks

Issue 94 | September 25, 2020
5 min read
Capsid and Tail

This month, we hosted two episodes of PHAVES! Here’s your recap of both, along with links to the recordings. Thanks very much to our special guests, Dr. Sabrina Green and Dr. Panos Kalatzis.

What’s New

Viperins are known to function in the eukaryotic antiviral response, and now they’ve been found in prokaryotes. Aude Bernheim (Weizmann Institute of Science) and colleagues published a new paper in Nature on prokaryotic viperins, which protect against phages. Paper | Press release

Phage defense systemsResearch paper

The use and selection of excipients are critical to stabilize phages in solid formulations. Yajie Zhang (University of Texas at Austin) and colleagues have reviewed the current classes of phage excipients, outstanding challenges with phage formulation, and new strategies that could help.

Phage methodsResearch paper

Niels Vander Elst (Ghent University) and colleagues published a new paper in Antibiotics on the characterization of two phage lysins, PlySs2 and PlySs9, which have in vitro lytic activity against bovine mastitis pathogen Streptococcus uberis.

LysinsResearch paperVeterinary medicine

What’s the prevalence of antibiotic resistance genes and virulence genes in complete/near-complete phage genomes? The Millard Lab did an analysis; here are the results.

Bioinformatics

Clément Girardot wrote a new piece on phage therapy for The Guardian’s Global Development section; in it he interviews Tobi Nagel and Martha Clokie of Phages for Global Health.

Global healthNewsPhage Therapy

Micreos has initiated a clinical trial to evaluate a topically-applied phage endolysin as a therapy for Atopic Dermatitis.

Biotech newsClinical TrialPhage Therapy

The Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture, an Indian research institute, has been developing phage cocktails for aquaculture. They’ve now transferred their phage technology to Salem Microbes Private Ltd, so it can be made available to shrimp farms.

AquacultureBiotech news

An international team of scientists are calling for the European Union to enforce non-animal antibody production, and phage display may be the ideal replacement. Report | Press release.

Phage displayRegulation

Latest Jobs

Lund University (Lund, Sweden) is hiring a researcher to be responsible for research tasks dealing with development of biocatalysts for designing effective antimicrobial strategies. Phage knowledge required.

Community Board

Anyone can post a message to the phage community — and it could be anything from collaboration requests, post-doc searches, sequencing help — just ask!

The Indian ‘Society for Bacteriophage Research and Therapy’ (SBRT) is a platform for phage researchers to share their expertise & resources. SBRT is pleased to announce a webinar on “Knowing the unknown: Approaches to characterize the vast uncharacterized proteome of bacteriophages” by Dr. Julianne H. Grose, Associate Professor, Microbiology and Molecular Biology, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA. The talk would be preceded by a keynote address by Prof. B.N. Tripathi, Deputy Director General, Animal Sciences, Indian Council of Agriculture Research Head Quarters, New Delhi. Please join us on 01 October (Thursday), 2020 at 7 pm IST/7.30 am MDT. We look forward to your participation. Register here.

Virtual Event

Save the date for the next rendition of PHAVES, which will be a seminar/Q&A with Dr. Emma Bell, Principal Bacteriophage Scientist at FixedPhage, and will take place October 6th (time TBA). She’ll discuss their phage immobilization technology and how they’ve improved their phage production with the Cellexus CellMaker. Small group networking to follow! Register for the series & stay up to date here!

PHAVESVirtual Event

From gut phages to fish phages: a recap of September’s PHAVES talks

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Phage microbiologist and co-founder of Phage Directory
Co-founder
Phage Directory, Atlanta, GA, United States

Jessica Sacher is a co-founder of Phage Directory and has a Ph.D in Microbiology and Biotechnology from the University of Alberta.

For Phage Directory, she takes care of the science, writing, communications, and business aspects.

This month, we hosted two PHAVES events; here’s your recap of both!

PHAVES 6

“TAILORing” phage therapy for the gut and beyond with Dr. Sabrina Green

YouTube video of PHAVES 6 (47:26)

Highlights of Sabrina’s talk

  • Through her research at Baylor College of Medicine (Anthony Maresso’s lab), she’s found that while there are lots of phages in the gut, some phages are inhibited by gut conditions (e.g. the presence of mucin)
  • One phage particularly well-suited to killing in the gut had mucin-binding activity, and mucin helped the phage bind its host
  • During her grad studies, Sabrina co-founded BCM TAILOR Labs, a service center that prepares therapeutic phage preparations for patients in need
  • They isolate phages mostly from the Houston sewage system, and it’s generally unlikely that they can’t find a phage for a given patient’s isolate
  • Most patients who’ve received their phages have done well, many have cleared their initial infections

PHAVES 7

Phage potential in aquaculture with Dr. Panos Kalatzis

YouTube video of PHAVES 7 (38:45)

Highlights of Panos’ talk

  • Most of the animal protein humans eat is attributed to fish, but fish production is hampered by bacterial disease, especially in hatcheries where vaccines and antibiotics are problematic
  • His work (in part at the University of Copenhagen, as well as through his company, Aquatic Biologicals) has involved testing phages as “smart disinfectants” in aquaculture settings, and they’ve seen that phage treatment can grant quite a high level of protection in an aquatic context
  • There is not currently a defined regulatory pathway for phages in an aquaculture context (should it be a drug or a feed additive?), and many other challenges exist (endotoxins are bad for fish larvae too!), but the future appears promising for phage use in aquaculture

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