Joshua Weitz is the PI of a new, $2.5M NIH R01 grant, supporting an interdisciplinary team of researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Institut Pasteur to advance the clinical potential of bacteria-killing viruses – also called bacteriophage, or phage.

Over the five years of the award, Joshua Weitz of the School of Biological Sciences at Georgia Tech and Laurent Debarbieux of the Institut Pasteur, in Paris, will jointly lead teams in the U.S. and France to research interactions between bacteriophage and the host’s immune response in treating acute respiratory infections caused by multi-drug-resistant bacteria.

The spread of antibiotic-resistant pathogens represents a significant public health challenge. In response, scientists and clinicians are exploring alternative ways to cure bacterial infections that cannot be treated with antibiotics. One approach is to use bacteriophage, which exclusively infect and eliminate bacteria. In a 2017 study published in Cell Host and Microbe, the teams of Weitz and Debarbieux showed that a synergy between an infected animal’s immune system and phage is essential to curing an infection.

Advancing the fundamental understanding of phage therapy will help advance its robust and reliable use in the clinic. The five-year NIH grant (1R01AI46592-01; Synergistic Control of Acute Respiratory Pathogens by Bacteriophage and the Innate Immune Response) will enable the U.S. and French teams to examine the dynamics of the synergy between phage and the immune response in treating acute respiratory infections.

More information here: Weitz-Debarbieux Phage Therapy grant