Are bacteriophages the future

In 2016, the zoo veterinarians at Nuremberg Zoo achieved a resounding success when they brushed the poorly healing, chronically infected wound on the foot of a rhinoceros with a pyo phage cocktail imported from Georgia: The wound began to heal quickly and the animal did not have to be euthanized.
Phage therapy pioneer: Eastern Europe
In Georgia you can buy phage cocktails for various uses in pharmacies. The Eliava Institute is the oldest still in existence that conducts both phage research and therapy. Depending on the bacteria currently present in the area, the phage cocktails are adjusted here every six months. The institute was founded in 1923 by George Eliava together with Felix d´Herelle, who discovered the phages in 1917. After Alexander Fleming coincidentally invented penicillin in 1928, various reasons in the 1940s led the western world to concentrate on antibiotic therapy and the eastern world on phage therapy.
Viruses as bacteria killers

Bacteriophages are viruses that specialize in bacteria as host cells: a fascinating coevolution of the good viruses with the germs. The phage solution is applied - locally, orally, by inhalation or, in exceptional cases, also systemically. The phages penetrate suitable bacteria, multiply rapidly and literally burst the germs like a balloon. The released phages initiate further destruction of germs that are suitable for them. Eukaryotic cells are not recognized by the good viruses. As soon as the corresponding bacteria are no longer available, the phages disintegrate and are broken down by the body. The exact determination of the pathogen causing the disease enables personalized medicine. The most suitable cocktail of several phages is used for broad application.
Research and development is ongoing

Even if there have been no reports of severe side effects so far, phages are not yet approved as therapeutic agents in Germany and other countries. Research projects worth millions in human medicine are now expected to result in a model path for phage approval that has also been tested according to Western standards. The Leibnitz Institute - German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures GmbH (DSMZ) is currently concentrating on phages of the most relevant ESKAPE bacteria in human medicine (Enterococcus, Staphylococcus, Klebsiella, Acinetobacter, Pseudomonas and Enterobacter).
Phages as a feed additive for poultry?

Research and development is also ongoing in veterinary medicine: administered via the drinking trough, biochemist Imke Schmidt from the DSMZ hopes to get a prophylactic control of colibacillosis in poultry flocks - without any antibiotics. For this purpose, a cocktail of four phages should be administered as a feed additive via the drinking trough. The project is funded by the DBU (Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt) and carried out in equal shares by TiHo, Fink Tec GmbH, PTC (Phage Technology Center GmbH) and DSMZ. The first results in the laboratory are promising, now the phages have to prove themselves in the animal stalls. The approval route as a feed additive is simpler than that for the therapeutic use of phages. Their use is already common practice in food hygiene. In Switzerland, for example, they are already being used to prevent dangerous Listeria development on raw milk cheese.
Researchers from Nanjing and Hangzhou are currently evaluating the use of phages against colibacillosis in rabbits. A major advantage over antibiotic treatment is the specificity of the therapy. The colon flora, which is vital in this species, remains largely intact.
Experts believe that phages should be used instead of antibiotics wherever possible and, where appropriate, synergistically with antibiotics.
The future remains exciting!
Further information on phage research and therapy: Leibnitz Institute - German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures GmbH (DSMZ)
Video: bacteriophage reproduction cycle (DSMZ)