Isolation and characterization of bacteriophages with therapeutic potential

Julia Villarroel

    Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesisResearch

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    Abstract

    The concerning spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria has directed the spotlight upon bacteriophages, in short phages, as potential candidates for therapeutic purposes. Far for being a novelty, phage therapy has been widely used in the 20s and 30s in western countries until the discovery of antibiotics, which, coupled with a lack of knowledge of phage biology at that time, let to the replacement of phage therapy by antibiotics. On the other side of the planet, the Georgian Eliava Institute has been using phages for treating bacterial diseases since short after phage discovery a century ago. Georgian pharmacies commonly sell phage cocktails from the Institute without the need of a doctor’s prescription. A thorough characterisation of the cocktail is though required for it to be accepted as pharmaceutical in the European Union. The potential to investigate the genetic material of microbial communities directly from the environment through metagenomics, allows for genomic characterisation of these cocktail. Furthermore, metagenomics analyses may lead to the discovery of novel phages with therapeutic potential, opening up a promising new horizon for phage therapy.

    This thesis is divided into five parts, each assigned a chapter. Chapter 1 provides the reader with an introduction to phage biology, history and metagenomics. Here, the main bioinformatics methods used throughout the studies of the following chapters are also presented and briefly described. Chapter 2 presents the paper ”HostPhinder: A Phage Host Prediction Tool” published in May 2016. The tool predicts the bacterial host of a given phage based on co-occurrent k-mers between a query sequence and reference phage genomes with known host. HostPhinder’s accuracy in predicting the host species and genus of an evaluation set was higher than 74% and 81%, respectively. The tool can be applied to identify the host of phage sequences found for instance in metagenomes allowing for a first step characterisation. Chapter 3 presents the paper ”Metagenomic analysis of therapeutic PYO phage cocktails from 1997 to 2014” submitted in October 2017 and currently under peer-revision. In this study, the compositions of 3 batches of a Georgian cocktail from 1997 to 2014 was compared by means of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) and metagenomic analysis. Thirty and 29 phage draft genomes were found in the cocktails from 1997 and 2014, respectively. One of them was present in both sample and did not resemble any known phage genomes, strongly suggesting its novelty. Phage representatives of all bacterial targets supposedly targeted by the cocktail’s were found, as predicted using HostPhinder. A comparison between cocktails from 1997, 2000, and 2014 showed a closer composition between the first two cocktails. Chapter 4 presents the characterisation of historicalS. aureus phages, once used for phage typing. Finally, the conclusive Chapter 5, recapitulates the main findings of this thesis and frame them into the perspective of potential future investigations.
    Original languageEnglish
    PublisherTechnical University of Denmark
    Number of pages98
    Publication statusPublished - 2018

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