Having held an IPO in late January, the Nantes-based biotechnology firm Pherecydes Pharma aims to fight antibiotic resistance with the help of a natural treatment. The company is one of the world’s pioneers in marketing phages, or bacteriophages, viruses that kill resistant bacteria naturally.
Found in waste water, phages actually use bacteria to reproduce by injecting their DNA into them. That kills the bacteria while allowing the phage to replicate. Phages don’t attack animal cells, making them inoffensive. It is a simple, efficient procedure that is very well-tolerated by humans.
Three families of products
So the biotech firm is developing a portfolio of phages targeting three of the most resistant and dangerous families of bacteria. All by themselves, Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli and P. aeruginosa (pneumonia) account for over two-thirds of resistant hospital-acquired infections. Going public will enable clinical studies on the three families.
Pherecydes Pharma has registered four patents and tested its bacteriophage solutions on 22 patients with infected prostheses, fractures or bone tissue. According to the company, from 80 to 100% of patients were cured, depending on the type of infection. Pherecydes Pharma estimates that there are 23,500 people in France alone with antibiotic-resistant infections who could benefit from phage-based treatment solutions.
Declared a public-health emergency by the World Health Organisation, antibiotic resistance could be responsible for some 10 million fatalities a year by 2050.