Microbiology Society informs House of Commons report on the antimicrobial potential of bacteriophages

05 January 2024

MT-Nov-2015-Society-logo-M.jpg 1

In January 2023, the Microbiology Society coordinated a response to a call for evidence launched by the House of Commons Science, Innovation and Technology Committee on the antimicrobial potential of bacteriophages. Earlier this week the Committee published the first major inquiry report, and we are pleased to report that our evidence has been considered and quoted extensively.

Bacteriophages are viruses that infect and destroy bacteria without damaging human cells, so have the potential to act as an alternative treatment for patients with bacterial infections. The inquiry sought to establish the strengths and weaknesses of bacteriophage therapy and identify opportunities for the UK government to adapt and improve existing policies.

Our response was informed by experts working in the field, and gave an overview of the state of bacteriophage research, assessed the strengths and weaknesses of bacteriophage therapy, considered the regulatory, clinical and academic barriers to the use of bacteriophages and highlighted opportunities for the government to support the bacteriophage research community and improve the route to bacteriophage therapy for patients and clinicians in the UK.

We are pleased to see that the inquiry report published this week refers to the evidence we provided. Notably, the report cites the need for: a national manufacturing facility able to produce bacteriophages to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) standard; more funding for bacteriophage research; and the MHRA to consider allowing the compassionate use of non-GMP phages produced in the UK for the last resort medical cases. It highlights that the development of bacteriophage therapies is currently at an impasse, and that regulators and policymakers need to address issues in the space if we are to harness the potential of bacteriophage therapy to improve patient outcomes and reduce antimicrobial resistance.

We greatly appreciate any opportunity to contribute to scientific policy and are delighted that our evidence has proved useful to the Committee. The Microbiology Society has access to a broad, deep range of expertise and is well-placed to provide support, evidence and advice to policymakers. We wish to convey our full support to the Science, Innovation and Technology Committee, and are keen to further assist it in its inquiry.

To discuss this further, please email [email protected].

You can read our full response to the call for evidence on our website, and the inquiry report online.