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Launch of the AntibioPhage project

The launch meeting for the international project AntibioPhage took place on 15 September 2015. This project aims to identify bacteriophages – bacterial viruses -  that can target strains of avian pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC). These bacteriophages represent a promising alternative to antibiotic therapies.

Bactériophages de bactéries lactiques accrochés à un débris organique non pathogène. Microscopie électronique à transmission. G=457000.. © INRA, ROUSSEAU Micheline
Updated on 01/13/2016
Published on 10/15/2015

Increasing numbers of bacteria that are pathogenic to both humans and animals are displaying resistance to antibiotic therapies.  Escherichia coli, some of whose strains cause infections of the digestive tract, urinary tract or airways, are concerned by this observation, despite the use of certain classes of antibiotics being reduced or discontinued.  New therapeutic approaches are therefore becoming necessary to control pathogenic E. coli infections in humans and animals (the One Health approach).

Phage therapy, an approach that is now back on the agenda

Phage therapy is an alternative to using antibiotic therapies.  This method is based on the use of bacteriophages (bacterium-specific viruses) that infect bacterial cells and propagate within them, causing destruction of the affected cell.  This therapeutic method was developed at the start of the 20th century but was gradually abandoned thereafter, overtaken by the use of antibiotics.

The AntibioPhage project

The AntibioPhage project aims to identify bacteriophages that could control avian pathogenic E. coli strains (APEC). These phages will be isolated in the environment of the animals, in areas most likely to harbour resistant bacteria (surface water, drains, etc.).
Candidate phages will  be selected in an avian model of septicaemia.  These phages will have to present with a broad spectrum of bacterial hosts, high in vitro replication kinetics and an absence of resistance (or minimal resistance) against the host.  They must be able to recognise determinants for pathogenicity or the transfer of resistance to antibiotics.

Scientific contact(s):

Project leader:
Robert Atterbury, University of Nottingham
Associated Division(s):
Microbiology and the Food Chain
Associated Centre(s):
Val de Loire

Find out more

The AntibioPhage project involves:

  • INRA (Joint Research Unit for Infectiology and Public Health (ISP), Val de Loire Research Centre),
  • University of Copenhagen, (UCPH) (Denmark),
  • University of Leuven (Belgium),
  • University of Nottingham (UK),
  • Biocontrol Ltd (UK), a European subsidiary of the American company AmpliPhi Biosciences Corp.

The project will last 3 years, at a total cost of €1,444,000.  It is being funded by the European ERA-net  ANIHWA  (ANImal Health and WelfAre) and by the French ANR (National Research Agency).