Bacteriophages: A Clinical Study

There are a lot of great biome stories this week.  Tough choice, what to write about today!  There are two items that came out on top of the list so you get one today and one early next week.

Today’s top story is about a huge step in using phages therapeutically.  You all know how excited I am about the promise of bacteriophages! (You can read just one of my previous posts about it here.  This is the only product I have found – Florassist – to use phages in a probiotic mix.) Having suffered terrible side effects from antibiotics in my life, I am watching this field with hawk eyes.  I reckon there will come a day soon when phage technology will be advanced enough to make dysbiosis a thing of the past, on top of  reducing the need for antibiotics enormously.

So how’s this for exciting?!  The first official USA clinical study, conducted at Colorado State University, was published last month.[i]  In this randomized, double-blind, placebo cross-over pilot study 36 people with GI issues, including diarrhea, gas, bloating and/or abdominal pain, were assigned to either a placebo group or a treatment group for the first 4 weeks. After a 2 week washout period, the groups were switched.  The treatment consisted of 4 kinds of bacteriophages that target E.coli, which can cause GI issues, sometimes severe.

The phages “significantly decreased circulating interleukin 4, a protein often associated with allergic response and inflammatory disorders including dermatitis and rheumatoid arthritis.”  More than that, the gut flora remained stable – which would not have been the case had antibiotics been used, obviously – while levels of E.coli were greatly reduced.  And the treatment was associated with zero side effects.[ii]

I loved this quote by one of the researchers:  “”If you told someone to go eat viruses for a month, they’d probably say you’re crazy…”  Well – yeah, in the not-very-distant-past, if you’d told someone to eat yogurt as it is swarming with bacteria (thus, the reason for the euphemism  “active yogurt cultures” listed on the containers) they’d have called you crazy.  But with every passing day, I think, more and more people are coming to understand the concept of the human ecosystem and its variety of life forms.

I genuinely believe that the times, they are a’changin’.


[i] Melinda Gindin et al. Bacteriophage for Gastrointestinal Health (PHAGE) Study: Evaluating the Safety and Tolerability of Supplemental Bacteriophage Consumption, Journal of the American College of Nutrition (2018). DOI: 10.1080/07315724.2018.1483783


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