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Phages and the Eliava Institute


The range of phage preparations at the Eliava Institute, in Tbilisi, Georgia
can take a variety of pharmaceutical forms (topically, rectally, orally,
inhalation or by injection). The purified phage preparation can be either a
single clone, which is active against one bacterial species, or a 'cocktail'
of phages giving a broad range effect against a known variety of

For example, a single monoclonal preparation of a staphylococcal
bacteriophage can be effective against 80-95% of aureus strains,
including the scourge of modern hospitals MRSA. It can also be used
against local and general infections, new-born sepsis, ostemyelitis,
pneumonia, etc. A 'cocktail' of phages is commonly used for treatment
and as a prophylactic against wound infections, staphylococci,
streptococci, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Proteus species and E. Coli.
Typical applications are in surgery, both pre and post operatively, burn
wounds, osteomyelitis, skin, eye and ear infections.

For gastrointestinal infections there is an 11-part phage compound
effective against 6 different Salmonella species, with a 17-part cocktail
against a broad range of intestinal pathogens.

The Holy Grail of all medicines is to only attack a specific infections,
which the phage performs exceedingly well. Its advantage over
antibiotics are:-

1 - They kill only harmful bacteria, not normal gut flora.

2 - They are effective against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. They act in a
completely different way to antibiotics and the presence of resistant
determinants is irrelevant.

3 - The pharmacokinetics of phage therapy is quite different to that of
antibiotics. After administration, phage numbers increase until all relevant
bacteria are killed. Repeat doses are often unnecessary.

4 - They are cheap and easy to produce. If new ones are required, our
sewers, rivers and the sea has an abundance of phages and it is a
relatively simple task to get and purify new ones, unlike the billions of
dollars and many years it takes to produce an antibiotic which soon
becomes resistant.

Phage therapy has been widely used in Poland over the years and in
some clinical data recently summarised, some impressive results
emerged. During the 1980s 550 patients aged from one week to 86 years
were treated with phages in different hospitals. Of these, 518 had
previously been treated with antibiotics, which had proved ineffective.
Their conditions ranged from wound infections, peritonitis, respiratory
infections and bacteraemia, with pathogens ranging from staphylococci,
Klebsiella, Pseudomonas, E. Coli and Salmonella.

The phage preparations were obtained from a cultured collection and
treatment involved 10 mL suspension by mouth, half an hour before
meals (after gastric acid neutralisation), or topically using phage soaked
dressings. Using the criteria of complete recovery and negative
pathogens, the success rates were between 75% and 100%, depending
on the bacterium. More information on the Polish trials can be found at

Although very good empirical results were obtained, the trials were not
considered by Western medical experts to have been being well
designed, and information was lacking. Although phages have been
used in Georgia for over 80 years, and the Russian Army used them
successfully to treat wound infection during the 2nd World War, Western
medicine seems to have rejected phages for some unknown reason,
often citing poor data and record keeping in the former Soviet Union for
their lack of interest. Some might say vested interest by Western
chemical companies is also to blame, as they can't make any money from
a natural virus; it is not patentable. Their only hope of making money is to
synthesise phages, just as they did to antibiotics, then we shall see a
re-emergence of phage-type therapy that will take over from antibiotics.
Sadly though, with a synthetic clone, the very essence of the phage,
that ability to naturally evolve as their target bacteria mutate, will be
neutralised and they will have to develop another clone to deal with a
new bacterial strain, just as they did with antibiotics. Deja vu!

Polish Academy of Science

MRSA - the scandal
Thomas Hausler's excellent book:- Viruses-V-Superbugs

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