Clin Microbiol Infect. 2023 Jan 17:S1198-743X(23)00033-2. doi: 10.1016/j.cmi.2023.01.011. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Bacteriophage therapy has a long history in the treatment of musculoskeletal and skin/soft tissue infections, particularly in the former Soviet Union. Due to the global rise in antimicrobial resistance, phage application has experienced a resurgence of interest and expanded to many countries.
OBJECTIVES: This narrative review aims to provide clinical microbiologists, infectious disease specialists and surgeons a brief history of bacteriophage therapy for human musculoskeletal and soft tissue infections, as well as data on current practices and ongoing clinical studies.
SOURCES: A search of PubMed and Clinicaltrials.gov was performed to identify relevant studies. Search terms were 'bacteriophage therapy', 'musculoskeletal infection' and 'soft tissue infection'. The bibliography of all retrieved articles was checked for additional relevant references.
CONTENT: Past and current data on the use of bacteriophage therapy for human musculoskeletal, skin and soft tissue infections are evaluated. Moreover, we present the clinical trials registered in public databases. Based on current clinical experience and data, several scenarios of bacteriophage application for human therapy are examined. Finally, we discuss legislative hurdles in the regulatory approval process and present future perspectives for bacteriophage therapy.
IMPLICATIONS: Antimicrobial resistance is one of the most important global public health challenges. Several different alternatives to conventional antibiotics are under development; bacteriophage therapy is one of them. Currently, therapeutic use of phages is restrained by regulatory hurdles and largely limited to sporadic authorization in compassionate use or under temporary approval as new drugs in Europe and the US. Although bacteriophage therapy seems to be safe and clinical results of phage treatment are promising, future data from high-quality (randomized controlled) trials could provide a better understanding of the reasonable minimal criteria required for expansion of bacteriophage therapy.