The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation awarded $1 million to Felix Biotechnology to develop a novel bacteriophage (phage) therapy approach to treat chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections in people with cystic fibrosis. This funding will support preclinical studies.
Phages are specialized viruses that kill very specific bacterial strains. Phage therapy refers to the use of phages to treat an infection in a person.
“Developing new treatments for Pseudomonas infections is a priority because they affect a large number of people with CF and can be difficult to treat,” said JP Clancy, MD, vice president of clinical research for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. “Phage therapy has shown some promising results in several individual cases, but more research is needed to determine whether this potential therapy is safe and effective.”
Pseudomonas infections, which are the third most common type of lung infection in people with CF, are very difficult to eliminate once established in the airways. Approximately 32% of the nearly 31,000 people with CF in the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Patient Registry had Pseudomonas infections in 2020, and more than 13% percent of those infected had multi-drug resistant Pseudomonas infections.
Felix Biotechnology is developing an inhalable treatment licensed from the lab of Yale University Professor Paul Turner, PhD, that is designed to address one of the key shortcomings of traditional phage therapy: bacterial resistance in chronic infections. People with cystic fibrosis who would like to learn more about the clinical trial looking into the safety and efficacy of the potential therapy will be able to find more information on clinicaltrials.gov.
The Foundation has supported several phage studies to explore the feasibility of phage therapy as a treatment for drug-resistant infections in CF. Currently, people with CF can only access phage treatment in the U.S. by participating in a clinical trial or using the Food and Drug Administration emergency Investigational New Drug process, which only allows the use of experimental therapies for life-threatening conditions.