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A genomics-led approach to bacteriophage therapies for infectious disease.

48 months
Approved budget:
Dr Simon Jackson
Health issue:
Infectious disease
Proposal type:
Sir Charles Hercus Fellowship
Lay summary
With the rise of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in bacterial pathogens, we urgently need to find alternatives to traditional antibiotics. Using viruses that specifically infect bacteria (known as bacteriophages or phages), is an emerging approach to treat AMR infections, termed phage therapy. A major barrier to the widespread future success of phage therapy is that closely related pathogen isolates typically differ vastly in their phage susceptibility profiles—highlighted by several recent clinical applications of phages that required screening thousands of phage candidates. My research aims to understand the genetic basis for the complex interactions between phages and bacteria, focusing on anti-viral immune systems encoded by bacteria and phage-encoded anti-immunity factors. Combining cutting edge computational and lab-based research with an integrated educational outreach programme, my long-term vision is developing a framework for a genomics-led approach to the future of rapid, cost-effective, and accessible phage therapy in Aotearoa and globally.