Bacteriophages, viruses specific of bacteria, are receiving substantial attention as alternative antibacterial agents to treat bacteria frequently multi-resistant to antibiotics and/or able to form biofilms, such as staphylococci. The latter are responsible for very difficult to treat bone and joint infections (BJIs). In this context, our consortium aims to develop a production of therapeutic phages in accordance with the will of ANSM (French National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products) to encourage the development of a national academic platform for phage therapy. We report the isolation and characterization of new anti-Staphylococcus phages as well as the evaluation of their activity on a collection of clinical strains of S. aureus (SA) and coagulase-negative staphylococci (CNS) in order to assess their therapeutic potential.
Seventeen phages were isolated from wastewater samples. Their identification was obtained by Illumina whole genome sequencing. To evaluate their spectrum of activity, 30 genetically characterized SA strains representative of the main genetic backgrounds as well as 32 strains belonging to 7 CNS species responsible for BJIs were included. The spot test technique, based on the determination of the Efficiency Of Plating ratio, was used (EOP, ratio between the phage titer obtained on a tested strain/titer on a reference strain, close to 1 if high sensitivity to the phage).
All isolated phages belonged to the Myoviridae family: 14/17 and 3/17 to the Kayvirus and Silviavirus genera respectively. Silviavirus phages were more active on SA strains (EOP>0.001 for 73–90% of strains) than Kayvirus phages (EOP>0.001 for 13–70% of strains, except for V1SA21: 80%). In total, 83% of strains were susceptible to the phage with the broadest spectrum in each genus, their combination representing a promising opportunity to prevent the emergence of resistance. Kayvirus phages had polyvalent activity on several CNS species (maximum 47% of tested strains), mainly S. lugdunensis, S. capitis and S. caprae, whereas Silviavirus phages were only active on 6–12% of the tested strains.
We report the characterization of a large collection of novel phages with complementary spectra against a collection of SA and CNS strains. Further work is currently focused on i) the isolation of anti-S. epidermidis phages, bacterial species against which the present collection of phages was insufficiently active, while it is a major pathogen in this context, ii) the development of production and purification protocols in order to meet the requirements of ANSM for human use.