Battling Enteropathogenic Clostridia: Phage Therapy for Clostridioides difficile and Clostridium perfringens
van der Vossen, J.M.B.M.
The pathogenic Clostridioides difficile and Clostridium perfringens are responsible for many health care-associated infections as well as systemic and enteric diseases. Therefore, they represent a major health threat to both humans and animals. Concerns regarding increasing antibiotic resistance (related to C. difficile and C. perfringens) have caused a surge in the pursual of novel strategies that effectively combat pathogenic infections, including those caused by both pathogenic species. The ban on antibiotic growth promoters in the poultry industry has added to the urgency of finding novel antimicrobial therapeutics for C. perfringens. These efforts have resulted in various therapeutics, of which bacteriophages (in short, phages) show much promise, as evidenced by the Eliava Phage Therapy Center in Tbilisi, Georgia (https://eptc.ge/). Bacteriophages are a type of virus that infect bacteria. In this review, the (clinical) impact of clostridium infections in intestinal diseases is recapitulated, followed by an analysis of the current knowledge and applicability of bacteriophages and phage-derived endolysins in this disease indication. Limitations of phage and phage endolysin therapy were identified and require considerations. These include phage stability in the gastrointestinal tract, influence on gut microbiota structure/function, phage resistance development, limited host range for specific pathogenic strains, phage involvement in horizontal gene transfer, and—for phage endolysins—endolysin resistance, -safety, and -immunogenicity. Methods to optimize features of these therapeutic modalities, such as mutagenesis and fusion proteins, are also addressed. The future success of phage and endolysin therapies require reliable clinical trial data for phage(-derived) products. Meanwhile, additional research efforts are essential to expand the potential of exploiting phages and their endolysins for mitigating the severe diseases caused by C. difficile and C. perfringens. Copyright © 2022 Venhorst, van der Vossen and Agamennone.
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Frontiers in Microbiology, 13 (13)