Our Product Development Projects

 

Thus far we have brought together 2 teams of international collaborators to co-develop phage products for important public health applications.

PROJECT 1: Campylobacter phages for poultry decontamination (Kenya)

  • A bacteria called Campylobacter is the #1 bacterial cause of diarrhea in both developed & developing countries. ​

 

  • Kenya has the highest reported Campylobacter fatality rate globally.

 

  • Children are most affected in developing countries and kids in Kenya

are 440-fold more likely to die from Campylobacter than kids in Europe.

  • Poultry meat is the primary source of Campylobacter infection and  >75% of retail poultry samples in Nairobi tested positive for it.

Cleaning Up Chickens

 

Campylobacter are frequently present in the intestinal tracts of poultry, then spread to the surface of meat products during slaughter. While the chickens rarely get sick from the Campylobacter, people do.

 

Our Goal is straightforward: decrease Campylobacter levels in chickens.

Cleaning Up Chickens

 

Campylobacter are frequently present in the intestinal tracts of poultry, then spread to the surface of meat products during slaughter. While the chickens rarely get sick from the Campylobacter, people do.

 

Our Goal is straightforward: decrease Campylobacter levels in chickens.

Photos courtesy Dr. Samuel Kariuki

Our Approach: 

  • We are developing a phage product that can kill the range of Campylobacter strains found in Kenya.

  • We will formulate those phages in chicken feed so that it can be given to chickens 24 hours before slaughter.

  • Studies have shown that this can reduce the Campylobacter levels enough to significantly decrease infections in people.

Project Partners:

Kenya Medical Research Institute

University of Nottingham (UK)

University of Alberta (Canada)

Funding provided by:

Biotechnology and Biological 

    Sciences Research Council (UK)

PROJECT 2: Cholera phages to control outbreaks (Democratic Republic of Congo)

  • There are typically 1.3 - 4 million cases of cholera each year 

  • The tragic outbreaks in Haiti and Yemen ​have swollen those numbers:

- Haiti has reported 815,000 cases thus far​

- Yemen expects over 1 million cases by the end of 2017

  • Over the past decade >60% of the cholera cases have been in Africa with the largest percentage of those occurring in the Democratic Republic of Congo

  • Phages could work in parallel with cholera vaccines: phages starting to kill the bacteria within hours, while vaccines developed full protection over 3 1/2 weeks

Vibrio cholerae, the bacteria that causes the disease cholera (Wikipedia)

Photos courtesy Dr. Samuel Kariuki

Cholera Phages in India

In the 1920s and 1930s cholera phages were tested in hundreds of Indian villages that experienced yearly cholera outbreaks. One set of villages received phages and the other did not.

The results were remarkable:

  • The phage-treated villages had almost no cholera cases during the first 3 years, while the untreated villages had regular epidemics.

  • After that, the government ordered phage treatment in both sets of villages, and none of the villages had major outbreaks for the next 3 years.

 

Ganges River

Our Approach: 

  • We have isolated phages that can kill a panel of Vibrio cholerae strains collected in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

  • We are characterizing those phages to select a combination of phages that have the broadest killing capacity across the panel of bacteria.

  • We will then test the phages in the DRC for water decontamination and as a preventative treatment in family members of infected patients.

By blocking the spread of infection, phages have the potential to significantly decrease the total number of people affected in a cholera outbreak.

Some of our Cholera Phage Team members from the DR Congo, Kenya, Canada and the US met together during July 2017

Project Partners:

Ministry of Health (DR Congo)

Kenya Medical Research Institue

Yale University (US)

Queen Astrid Military Hospital (Belgium)

University of Alberta (Canada)

Funding provided by:

Rotary International

Individual Donors

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