Innovate UK KTN Launches Phage Innovation Network

Posted on: 21/11/2022
Lab worker with petri dish and protective mask

Phage-based technologies (PBTs) are viable aids to controlling the global issue of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and ensuring the longevity of antibiotics.

There is a significant, globally recognised knowledge base for phage research and development in the UK. However, there are barriers to realising the potential of PBTs and translating knowledge into real-world solutions. Innovate UK KTN’s Phage Innovation Network will be instrumental in driving innovation in the regulation and development of PBTs for applications across multiple sectors, ensuring the UK maintains its strong stance on tackling AMR and solidifies its position as a world leader in phage research.

Dr Fran Hodges, KTM Emerging Technologies and Industries, leads this initiative, using her expertise as a phage microbiologist and experience working with industrial partners on the development of phage products. Recent activity includes a contribution to a Financial Times article highlighting the potential of phage therapy, and review of Health Improvement Scotland’s recommendation for the use of phage therapy in patients with difficult to treat infections.

Direct impacts

  • Understanding emerging innovations in the development of PBTs – provide a forum for a the UK’s community of phage researchers, innovative companies, end user industries, funders, regulators, those interested in alternatives to antibiotics, and other key stakeholders to establish the state-of-the-art of phage research, network, and develop new project ideas.
  • Addressing the global challenge of AMR by improving cross sector access to PBTs leading to multi-sector reduction in antibiotic use – showcase PBTs to increase engagement of key stakeholders on this topic across sectors and strengthen and improve industry engagement in the development and production of PBTs.
  • Creating a business community around innovations in phage research for sector growth and economic benefit in the UK – build a platform from which the UK knowledge base for phage research can be expanded for the UK to solidify itself as a world leader in the development of PBTs.
  • Changing perceptions of anti-infectives and their role in society – expand reach and engagement and network activities to contribute to redefining antimicrobials as infrastructure necessary for global health and economic security.

Proposed activities

  • Establish an Advisory Board consisting of key stakeholders and phage specialists across different sectors the board will comprise representatives from different sectors including regulators, industry experts, phage specialists, manufacturing and formulation experts, and public health officials.
  • Outline the state of the art of phage research in the UK and refine challenges that need to be addressed in the UK to establish the use of PBTs across different sectors this activity will outline the barriers currently preventing development and use of PBTs and confirm areas to focus on for future activities and efforts of the Phage Innovation Network.
  • Produce a report prepared through collaboration of key stakeholders and phage specialists which acts as a roadmap and identifies a feasible route for the introduction of PBTs into general use across different sectors in the UK this report will provide key targets that need to be met in order to realise the potential of PBTs. This activity will further unify those working on PBTs across different sectors and ensure that there is direction in the research and development along a path that has been established with engagement from regulators and policy makers.
  • Community building activities and networking to improve reach and engagement these activities will showcase different applications for phages to enhance reach and engagement throughout the phage and wider AMR communities.

Keep an eye out for future activities from the new Phage Innovation Network.

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Francesca Hodges

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Francesca Hodges

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