The first international phage biotechnology conference, held this week at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, is expected to lead to the formation of an International Phage Society and trade body to represent the interests of a wide variety of scientists, clinicians and biotechnology businesses working with bacteriophages. These organisations would represent and promote the interests of members in areas such as regulatory affairs, funding, and raising commercial and public awareness of these smallest forms of life.
Bacteriophages are viruses which only infect bacteria, and recently an explosion of interest in their use for a variety of medical and industrial applications has occurred. For example, phage therapy uses phages to kill bacteria resistant to antibiotics, such as MRSA in hospital infections and listeria on foodstuffs.
Initiated by Edinburgh firm Big DNA Ltd, which is developing vaccines which use bacteriophages as their delivery vehicle, international delegates voted the event a huge success, and one of the best conferences they had ever attended, covering a wide range of topics from pure research to industrial and medical applications. Organised by Dr Jason Clark from Big DNA, over 150 delegates took part from a very wide range of backgrounds and countries.
Dr John March, chief executive of Big DNA said: ”My hope is that the wide range of scientists, clinicians and biotechnologists currently researching or putting phages to practical use are able to pool their knowledge and expertise to accelerate progress towards further development in this exciting field of biotechnology.