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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2004 Oct;48(10):3817-22.

Therapy of experimental pseudomonas infections with a nonreplicating genetically modified phage.

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Max F. Perutz Laboratories, University Departments at the Vienna Biocenter, Department of Microbiology and Genetics, Dr. Bohrgasse 9/4, 1030 Vienna, Austria.


Bacteriophage therapy of bacterial infections has received renewed attention owing to the increasing prevalence of antibiotic-resistant pathogens. A side effect of many antibiotics as well as of phage therapy with lytic phage is the release of cell wall components, e.g., endotoxins of gram-negative bacteria, which mediate the general pathological aspects of septicemia. Here we explored an alternative strategy by using genetically engineered nonreplicating, nonlytic phage to combat an experimental Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection. An export protein gene of the P. aeruginosa filamentous phage Pf3 was replaced with a restriction endonuclease gene. This rendered the Pf3 variant (Pf3R) nonreplicative and concomitantly prevented the release of the therapeutic agent from the target cell. The Pf3R phage efficiently killed a wild-type host in vitro, while endotoxin release was kept to a minimum. Treatment of P. aeruginosa infections of mice with Pf3R or with a replicating lytic phage resulted in comparable survival rates upon challenge with a minimal lethal dose of 3. However, the survival rate after phage therapy with Pf3R was significantly higher than that with the lytic phage upon challenge with a minimal lethal dose of 5. This higher survival rate correlated with a reduced inflammatory response elicited by Pf3R treatment relative to that with the lytic phage. Therefore, this study suggests that the increased survival rate of Pf3R-treated mice could result from reduced endotoxin release. Thus, the use of a nonreplicating modified phage for the delivery of genes encoding proteins toxic to bacterial pathogens may open up a new avenue in antimicrobial therapy.

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