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I have been working with phages since 2002, although my interest in phage therapy - and therefore their fascinating biology - started in 1997. My first hands-on exposure to phages was during my undergraduate studies at the University of Brighton. I then moved to Lubbock, Texas, and in 2010 completed my PhD in Medical Microbiology. After working on several projects, including using phage display for self-assembling nanocircuitry, for my thesis I developed and studied a technique to adapt the host range of phages as a means to enhance their therapeutic potential: the Appelmans protocol. Since then I have worked with phages in industry, including working for Biocontrol, Ltd, AmpliPhi Biosciences, Corp., GeneWEAVE Biosciences and Roche Molecular Systems, Inc., focusing on benchwork and management of small teams. Experienced in bench techniques, lab setup, safety and management, team leadership, protocol design and review, with 17 years of advanced training and research in phage therapy, phage display and phage-based diagnostics.
Bacteriophages are naturally adapted to prey on their hosts. This makes them exquisite predators of bacteria, a property that is highly advantageous for the treatment of bacterial infections. While the concept is now more than a century old, phage therapy is gaining renewed interest as antibiotics are starting to lose efficacy worldwide due to overuse and bacterial evolution. Antibiotic resistant and biofilm-based infections are problematic for traditional therapies, but phages are essentially unaffected by antibiotic resistance and many can degrade biofilm matrices. Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials, and a growing body of compassionate use case studies have demonstrated the safety and potential efficacy of phage therapy to combat otherwise highly refractory bacterial infections. I have worked on phage therapy for my PhD, and professionally at Biocontrol and AmpliPhi Biosciences, where I provided phage expertise across all areas of their business, including product design, development and lab setup.
The ability of phages to target specific host species or strains and insert their DNA into the cell offers a mechanism to develop phage-based platforms for rapid diagnostics of bacterial infections. This allows for better and more timely clinical decision making to chose the right antibiotics, isolation protocol or other appropriate clinical regimen sooner and with higher confidence. Rapid diagnostics lead to improved clinical outcomes for both the patient and the hospital. During my time at GeneWEAVE then Roche I provided phage expertise to the team that brought the world's first bacteriophage-based rapid diagnostic platform to market: the Cobas VivoDX platform, which is now commercially available in Europe and has recently been approved by the FDA for the detection of MRSA.
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