Viruses successfully cure persistent lung infection for the first time

Researchers at National Jewish Health used bacteriophages, viruses that selectively infect and

destroy bacteria - to treat a lung infection caused by Mycobacterium abscessus in a young patient with cystic fibrosis.

Jarrod Johnson is a 26-year-old patient withcystic fibrosis. Throughout his life he suffered from lung infections. By 2020, Johnson's lung function has fallen below 30%. Doctors believed that without a lung transplant, he would die in just a few years. At the same time, he was denied transplantation due to mycobacteriosis, which could not be cured with antibiotics.

Researchers at National Jewish Health duringFor several years, they studied samples of mycobacteria taken from Johnson's lungs in search of a bacteriophage capable of coping with them. As a result, two viruses were found that effectively killed the mycobacteria that had infected Johnson's lungs. The phages found have been modified to improve their therapeutic potential.

Researchers report that Johnson received hisfirst phage infusion in September 2020. After that, the viruses were injected into the patient's body twice a day for 500 days. The analyzes showed that already within two months after the start of therapy, various genomic, cellular and clinical markers indicated successful treatment. A little over a year after the introduction of phages, Johnson's infection appeared to be completely gone.

“This study can serve as a roadmapfor the future use of phages to treat patients with severe Mycobacterium abscessus lung infection and to save lives,” said Dr. Jerry Nick, co-author of the study.

The researchers note that one year afterStarting therapy in October 2021, Johnson received new lungs. The patient remained on phage therapy throughout the procedure and during recovery. Post-transplant tests showed that intervention and immune suppression did not lead to a recurrence of the infection. All markers show that there is no infection in Johnson's lungs. Doctors say that now the patient has stopped treatment and lives a full life.

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