Tuberculosis is caused by a germ that has evolved to evade the body’s immune system. Now, its natural enemy, the phage, is being used to detect infection at an early stage. Britain’s first phage research center was officially launched on the 16thy May and appearing at Innovate UK KTN’s UK Phage Innovation Showcase will be Actiphage®a bacteriophage-based molecular diagnostics for tuberculosis.
Catherine Rees, Professor of Microbiology at the University of Nottingham, is one of the founders of PBD Biotech, the developers of Actiphage.
I am delighted to be supporting the launch of the University of Leicester Phage Research Centre, and to have the opportunity to highlight phage-based technology at the KTN UK Phage Innovation Showcase. These developments underscore the UK’s recognized strength in phage research, and I look forward to the exciting new collaborations and technological developments that will emerge from these important networking events. “
Kathryn Rees, Professor of Microbiology, University of Nottingham | Co-Founder, PBD Biotech | Developers Actiphage
A quarter of the world’s population carries tuberculosis but does not show symptoms. It can remain hidden in the body and progress to full-blown disease only when the immune system is weakened, perhaps due to other illnesses or poor diet. Tuberculosis is a preventable disease but can be fatal if not treated. The challenge is how to detect and treat people with active disease before they become infected – and thus break the cycle of infection.
bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) has proven difficult to detect because it has a rigid cell wall that prevents the release of its DNA and is slow to culture. Actiphage uses a phage, a virus specific for Mtb, to find live Mtb cells in the blood.
Research conducted at the NHRI Respiratory Biomedical Research Center in Leicester by Senior Clinical Lecturer and Honorary Consultant Physician, Dr Pranapashis Haldar, has shown that detection of Mtb in blood with Actiphage is an indicator of active tuberculosis. This is a potential breakthrough in the fight to eradicate tuberculosis.
As we see in the Actiphage assay, phages can enhance the range and sensitivity of molecular diagnostics of bacterial infections by providing a mechanism for identification and release of target genetic material for PCR-based amplification.
There are specific phages that are known to infect the vast majority of bacteria causing infections. Phages are also very versatile and can be modified to enable different approaches to clinical diagnostic development.”
Dr Pranbashis Haldar, NIHR Leicester Respiratory Biomedical Research Center by Senior Clinical Lecturer and Honorary Consultant Physician
Dr. Haldar was invited to join a group at the event and believes that phages will play multiple roles in preventing and treating bacterial infections.
For more information on Phage Research Center visit le.ac.uk/research/centres/phage-research.
To learn more about Actiphage visit pbdbio.com.
Register for the launch event at iuk.ktn-uk.org/events/uk-phage-innovation-showcase/.