Treating severe COVID-19 associated secondary bacterial infections with Phage Therapy under the Declaration of Helsinki (PT)

Main funder

Funder's project number: 336518

Funds granted by main funder (€)

  • 188 217,00

Funding program

Project timetable

Project start date: 01/07/2020

Project end date: 31/12/2022


Severe cases of COVID-19 disrupt the innate defense of lungs, hence exposing the patient to secondary bacterial pneumonia. Further, mechanic ventilation is both critically important therapeutic intervention for COVID-19 and the leading cause of hospital-acquired (often drug-resistant) bacterial pneumonia in general. Early estimates suggest that in around half of fatal COVID-19 cases, a bacterial infection was ultimately the cause of death. The treatment of secondary infections that are unresponsive to some or even all antibiotics can therefore have a notable effect on reducing COVID-19 associated mortality.
Bacteriophages are viruses that infect and destroy bacteria regardless of their potential antibiotic resistance. In the proposed project, we aim to utilize phages against three etiological agents (Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Acinetobacter baumannii and Klebsiella pneumoniae) to treat severe secondary infections under Helsinki Declaration in Helsinki University Central Hospital. The established Phage Therapy Unit has already provided phages to treat several patients, including patients with respiratory tract infections (although prior to SARS-CoV-2 pandemic). Here, we construct cocktails that contain a collection of phages that have a broad activity against the targeted bacterial species and which also contains phages that “predict” the most common evolutionary pathways by which the causative agent become resistant to the phages. Preliminary results show that this is an efficient way to pronounce the antibacterial effect of phage-cocktails against capsule-secreting bacteria.
The cocktails will be purified with in-house developed standards and provided to the treating physicians to be administered via nebulizer to suitable patients. Treatment outcome is monitored and recorded. The pneumonia causing bacterial agent is studied in vitro against the phages in the cocktail and the acquired data is linked with the treatment success.

Principal Investigator

Primary responsible unit

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Last updated on 2022-06-07 at 12:43