By 2050 antibiotic-resistant infections are expected to kill 10 million people worldwide each year -- even more than the 3.5 million deaths caused by COVID-19 globally in 2021. Thus, we urgently need antibiotic alternatives, particularly in Africa and Asia where 90% of the antibiotic-resistant deaths will occur. Phages for Global Health empowers scientists in those regions to develop cheap, natural antibacterials (phages) that can kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria in people, livestock and food.
Antibiotic resistance disproportionately impacts low- and middle-income countries. Notably, resistance has already developed in bacteria causing pneumonia and diarrhea, the 2 leading causes of death in children <5 years. Before antibiotics were discovered, phages were used as antibacterials. With few other treatment options now available, phage drugs are regaining popularity in high-income nations, but most researchers in Africa & Asia lack the expertise to develop and utilize them effectively.
Phages could be especially useful in resource-limited settings since they can treat antibiotic-resistant infections, are easy to isolate from local environments, relatively inexpensive to produce, and have no reported side effects. We are (1) teaching African and Asian scientists how to isolate phages, (2) partnering with them to develop phage products, (3) providing information to regional drug regulatory agencies, and (4) working toward establishing centralized phage banks in Africa and Asia.
Through training workshops we have taught 139 scientists in Africa and Asia how to utilize phages. They have now started >50 phage research projects, won $1.5 million in grants, and taught phage biology to >1200 others -- rapid scaling! Besides running more workshops in those regions, we plan to continue co-developing phage products, help clarify regulatory requirements for phages, and develop international guidelines for sharing phages globally. This work could potentially save countless lives.
This project has provided additional documentation in a PDF file (projdoc.pdf).