Before the advent of antibiotics, doctors used phage "bacteria-eating" viruses to cure infections. Under their appearance of space lander, they constitute a promising alternative in the face of antimicrobial resistance.
The scientific community is unanimous: by 2050, resistance to antibiotics will cause higher mortality in the world than cancer. In this race against time in search of alternatives, all eyes are on an ancient therapeutic practice: phage therapy. Discovered more than a century ago by the microbiologist Félix d'Hérelle, it consists in using bacteriophages, or phage viruses, natural predators of bacteria which have the advantage of preserving the microbiota through their specific action. Used successfully against plague or dysentery, phage therapy fell into oblivion in the 1940s with the emergence of broad-spectrum antibiotics, more suited to large-scale production. In the countries of the former Soviet bloc, deprived of antibiotics by the West during the Cold War, phage therapy has established itself as a medicine in its own right, especially in Georgia. In Europe and the United States, a dynamic is now aimed at reintegrating phage viruses into the official pharmacopoeia. But the challenge is significant: the Georgian phages being judged not to comply with European and American standards, it is a question of starting from scratch: the constitution of phage banks specific to each infection and the realization of clinical studies of 'magnitude.
From the Eliava Institute in Tbilisi, Georgia, where, perpetuating the legacy of Félix d'Hérelle, patients from all over the world are treated each year at the Croix-Rousse hospital in Lyon, engaged in phage therapy tests with promising results, including studies at the Rockefeller Institute in New York, this documentary examines the curative potential of phage viruses, but also the therapeutic and regulatory challenges that will allow them to treat infections resistant to phage viruses. antibiotic treatments.
Documentary by Jean Crépu (France, 2019, 54mn)
Available until 19/05/2021