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Personalized Phage Therapy Proves Effective in Treating Antibiotic-Resistant Infections in Animals

by Anna

In a significant breakthrough for veterinary medicine, a new study has demonstrated a remarkable advance in the treatment of antibiotic-resistant infections in animals. The research, which centered on the case of a 5-year-old Siamese cat named Squeaks with a multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection post-arthrodesis surgery, represents the first documented application of personalized phage therapy in veterinary medicine.

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Published in Veterinary Quarterly, the research paper titled “Successful phage-antibiotic therapy of P. aeruginosa implant-associated infection in a Siamese cat” was led by Prof. Ronen Hazan and his team from the Faculty of Dental Medicine at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Collaborating with the team was Vet Holim, JVMV–Veterinary Medical Center in Kiryat-Anavim, Israel.

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Squeaks, initially treated at JVMV for injuries sustained from a high-rise fall, developed a severe infection in the right hind leg following multiple surgeries. Despite extensive antibiotic treatments over four months, the infection persisted, prompting consideration of implant-replacement surgery.

In a novel approach, the researchers combined a specific anti-P. aeruginosa phage, a virus that kills bacteria, with the antibiotic ceftazidime. The phage was applied topically to the surgical wound, while ceftazidime was administered intramuscularly. Remarkably, the cat’s owners took an active role in administering most of the treatment doses at home, following a brief demonstration.

This integration of phage therapy with antibiotics targeted the pathogen effectively and directly at the site of infection, capitalizing on the phage’s topical application, which simplifies administration and maximizes concentration at the infection site. The treatment led to the complete healing of the surgical wound, which had remained open for five months, after fourteen weeks of therapy.

The successful outcome of this case highlights the urgent need for innovative therapeutics like phage therapy to combat antibiotic-resistant infections, particularly in companion animals. Such infections pose significant health risks and increase morbidity, mortality, and costs associated with surgical procedures.

Phage therapy has shown high success rates in human medicine for treating orthopedic infections and chronically infected wounds. Its promising results in veterinary practice offer hope for addressing similar challenges in animals.

Furthermore, the practicality and efficacy of personalized phage therapy, demonstrated by this case, suggest its potential extension to other pets facing antimicrobial resistance challenges.

Interestingly, this case, which stemmed from insights gained in human medicine, underscores the value of cross-species medical research and treatment approaches.

The positive reception of phage therapy among veterinarians and pet owners signals a growing awareness and acceptance of this treatment option. As research into phage therapy in veterinary settings progresses, it holds promise for improving the health and well-being of animals while contributing valuable data to its broader application in both veterinary and human medicine.

This convergence of data can enhance treatment protocols and outcomes for various bacterial infections, potentially reshaping infection treatment paradigms in veterinary and human medicine alike.

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