[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The worldwide emergence of antibiotic resistances and the drying up of the antibiotic pipeline have spurred a search for alternative or complementary antibacterial therapies. Bacteriophages are bacterial viruses that have been used for almost a century to combat bacterial infections, particularly in Poland and the former Soviet Union. The antibiotic crisis has triggered a renewed clinical and agricultural interest in bacteriophages. This, combined with new scientific insights, has pushed bacteriophages to the forefront of the search for new approaches to fighting bacterial infections. But before bacteriophage therapy can be introduced into clinical practice in the European Union, several challenges must be overcome. One of these is the conceptualization and classification of bacteriophage therapy itself and the extent to which it constitutes a human medicinal product regulated under the European Human Code for Medicines (Directive 2001/83/EC). Can therapeutic products containing natural bacteriophages be categorized under the current European regulatory framework, or should this framework be adapted? Various actors in the field have discussed the need for an adapted (or entirely new) regulatory framework for the reintroduction of bacteriophage therapy in Europe. This led to the identification of several characteristics specific to natural bacteriophages that should be taken into consideration by regulators when evaluating bacteriophage therapy. One important consideration is whether bacteriophage therapy development occurs on an industrial scale or a hospital-based, patient-specific scale. More suitable regulatory standards may create opportunities to improve insights into this promising therapeutic approach. In light of this, we argue for the creation of a new, dedicated European regulatory framework for bacteriophage therapy.
Archivum Immunologiae et Therapiae Experimentalis 02/2014; · 2.38 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a major opportunistic pathogen in cystic fibrosis
(CF) patients and causes a wide range of infections among other susceptible
populations. Its inherent resistance to many antimicrobials also makes it diffi-
cult to treat infections with this pathogen. Recent evidence has highlighted the
diversity of this species, yet despite this, the majority of studies on virulence
3 and pathogenesis focus on a small number of strains. There is a pressing need
for a P. aeruginosa reference panel to harmonize and coordinate the collective
efforts of the P. aeruginosa research community. We have collated a panel of 43
P. aeruginosa strains that reflects the organism’s diversity. In addition to the
commonly studied clones, this panel includes transmissible strains, sequential
CF isolates, strains with specific virulence characteristics, and strains that repre-
sent serotype, genotype or geographic diversity. This focussed panel of P. aeru-
ginosa isolates will help accelerate and consolidate the discovery of virulence
determinants, improve our understanding of the pathogenesis of infections
caused by this pathogen, and provide the community with a valuable resource
for the testing of novel therapeutic agents.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The transplantation of conventional human cell and tissue grafts, such as heart valve replacements and skin for severely burnt patients, has saved many lives over the last decades. The late eighties saw the emergence of tissue engineering with the focus on the development of biological substitutes that restore or improve tissue function. In the nineties, at the height of the tissue engineering hype, industry incited policymakers to create a European regulatory environment, which would facilitate the emergence of a strong single market for tissue engineered products and their starting materials (human cells and tissues). In this paper we analyze the elaboration process of this new European Union (EU) human cell and tissue product regulatory regime-i.e. the EU Cell and Tissue Directives (EUCTDs) and the Advanced Therapy Medicinal Product (ATMP) Regulation and evaluate its impact on Member States' health care systems. We demonstrate that the successful lobbying on key areas of regulatory and policy processes by industry, in congruence with Europe's risk aversion and urge to promote growth and jobs, led to excessively business oriented legislation. Expensive industry oriented requirements were introduced and contentious social and ethical issues were excluded. We found indications that this new EU safety and health legislation will adversely impact Member States' health care systems; since 30 December 2012 (the end of the ATMP transitional period) there is a clear threat to the sustainability of some lifesaving and established ATMPs that were provided by public health institutions and small and medium-sized enterprises under the frame of the EUCTDs. In the light of the current economic crisis it is not clear how social security systems will cope with the inflation of costs associated with this new regulatory regime and how priorities will be set with regard to reimbursement decisions. We argue that the ATMP Regulation should urgently be revised to focus on delivering affordable therapies to all who are in need of them and this without necessarily going to the market. The most rapid and elegant way to achieve this would be for the European Commission to publish an interpretative document on "placing on the market of ATMPs," which keeps tailor-made and niche ATMPs outside of the scope of the medicinal product regulation.
Cell and Tissue Banking 09/2013; · 1.17 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Staphylococcus aureus phage ISP was lyophilized, using an Amsco-Finn Aqua GT4 freeze dryer, in the presence of six different stabilizers at different concentrations. Stability of the lyophilized phage at 4°C was monitored up to 37 months and compared to stability in Luria Bertani broth and physiological saline at 4°C. Sucrose and trehalose were shown to be the best stabilizing additives, causing a decrease of only 1 log immediately after the lyophilization procedure and showing high stability during a 27 month storage period.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(7):e68797. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A multiplex PCR based on oprI and oprL, coding for the outer membrane lipoprotein I and the peptidoglycan-associated lipoprotein OprL, respectively, was developed for the detection of Pseudomonas strains from a bacterial collection isolated from a small river. To study the diversity of these Pseudomonas isolates, an oprI-oprL gene sequence database of 94 Pseudomonas type strains was constructed. Phylogenetic analysis of the concatenated oprI and oprL gene sequences of the Pseudomonas type strains showed that they were largely congruent with the classification based on the MLSA approach based on 16S rRNA, gyrB, rpoB and rpoD gene sequences of Mulet et al. in 2010. Identification of the isolates demonstrated a high diversity of Pseudomonas isolates at the source of the river located in a forest of which most isolates belonged to the P. fluorescens lineage. On the other hand, the Pseudomonas population isolated at an anthropized site at the mouth of the river, receiving waste water from both households and industry, was very different and contained many P. aeruginosa isolates.
Research in Microbiology 12/2012; · 2.89 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: With this analysis we would like to raise some issues that emerge as a result of recent evolutions in the burgeoning field of human cells, tissues, and cellular and tissue-based product (HCT/P) transplantation, and this in the light of the current EU regulatory framework. This paper is intended as an open letter addressed to the EU policy makers, who will be charged with the review and revision of the current legislation. We propose some urgent corrections or additions to cope with the rapid advances in biomedical science, an extensive commercialization of HCT/Ps, and the growing expectation of the general public regarding the ethical use of altruistically donated cells and tissues. Without a sound wake-up call, the diverging interests of this newly established 'healthcare' industry and the wellbeing of humanity will likely lead to totally unacceptable situations, like some of which we are reporting here.
Cell and Tissue Banking 06/2012; 13(3):487-98. · 1.17 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Interest in using bacteriophages to treat bacterial infections (phage therapy) is growing, but there have been few experiments comparing the effects of different treatment strategies on both bacterial densities and resistance evolution. While it is established that multiphage therapy is typically more effective than the application of a single phage type, it is not clear if it is best to apply phages simultaneously or sequentially. We tried single- and multiphage therapy against Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 in vitro, using different combinations of phages either simultaneously or sequentially. Across different phage combinations, simultaneous application was consistently equal or superior to sequential application in terms of reducing bacterial population density, and there was no difference (on average) in terms of minimizing resistance. Phage-resistant bacteria emerged in all experimental treatments and incurred significant fitness costs, expressed as reduced growth rate in the absence of phages. Finally, phage therapy increased the life span of wax moth larvae infected with P. aeruginosa, and a phage cocktail was the most effective short-term treatment. When the ratio of phages to bacteria was very high, phage cocktails cured otherwise lethal infections. These results suggest that while adding all available phages simultaneously tends to be the most successful short-term strategy, there are sequential strategies that are equally effective and potentially better over longer time scales.
Applied and environmental microbiology 06/2012; 78(16):5646-52. · 3.69 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: For practitioners at hospitals seeking to use natural (not genetically modified, as appearing in nature) bacteriophages for treatment of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections (bacteriophage therapy), Europe's current regulatory framework for medicinal products hinders more than it facilitates. Although many experts consider bacteriophage therapy to be a promising complementary (or alternative) treatment to antibiotic therapy, no bacteriophage-specific framework for documentation exists to date. Decades worth of historical clinical data on bacteriophage therapy (from Eastern Europe, particularly Poland, and the former Soviet republics, particularly Georgia and Russia, as well as from today's 27 EU member states and the US) have not been taken into account by European regulators because these data have not been validated under current Western regulatory standards. Consequently, applicants carrying out standard clinical trials on bacteriophages in Europe are obliged to initiate clinical work from scratch. This paper argues for a reduced documentation threshold for Phase 1 clinical trials of bacteriophages and maintains that bacteriophages should not be categorized as classical medicinal products for at least two reasons: (1) such a categorization is scientifically inappropriate for this specific therapy and (2) such a categorization limits the marketing authorization process to industry, the only stakeholder with sufficient financial resources to prepare a complete dossier for the competent authorities. This paper reflects on the current regulatory framework for medicines in Europe and assesses possible regulatory pathways for the (re-)introduction of bacteriophage therapy in a way that maintains its effectiveness and safety as well as its inherent characteristics of sustainability and in situ self-amplification and limitation.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In 2011, a novel strain of O104:H4 Escherichia coli caused a serious outbreak of foodborne hemolytic uremic syndrome and bloody diarrhea in Germany. Antibiotics were of questionable use and 54 deaths occurred. Candidate therapeutic bacteriophages that efficiently lyse the E. coli O104:H4 outbreak strain could be selected rather easily from a phage bank or isolated from the environment. It is argued that phage therapy should be more considered as a potential armament against the growing threat of (resistant) bacterial infections.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(12):e52709. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The detection of schistosomiasis cases among Belgian military personnel returning from a mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) prompted a nested case-control study of all military personnel deployed in the DRC between 2005 and 2008 to identify all infections and to start appropriate treatment. Of 197 patients exposed at Lake Tanganyika in the Kalemie area of DRC, 49 (24.9%) were diagnosed with schistosomiasis. Swimming was significantly more frequent than wading in the seropositive group than in the seronegative group (88.9% vs. 73.6%; odds ratio [OR], 2.86; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.97-9.01). Thirty-one of 49 patients (63.3%) were symptomatic; including skin problems in 34.7%, respiratory symptoms in 12.2%, fever in 14.3%, and 51.0% with gastrointestinal problems. Median eosinophil counts were significantly higher in seropositive patients (375 vs. 138 per tL; Wilcoxon rank sum test [Ws] = 10,559.00; p < 0.01; r = -0.49). In total, 20 (40.8%) of the 49 patients were treated for symptomatic infections and the remainder for asymptomatic schistosomiasis. Our study emphasizes the need for active systematic post-tropical screening in military personnel after deployment to Schistosoma-endemic regions of the world.
Military medicine 11/2011; 176(11):1341-6. · 0.77 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Viable donor skin is still considered the gold standard for the temporary covering of burns. Since 1985, the Brussels military skin bank supplies cryopreserved viable cadaveric skin for therapeutic use. Unfortunately, viable skin can not be sterilised, which increases the risk of disease transmission. On the other hand, every effort should be made to ensure that the largest possible part of the donated skin is processed into high-performance grafts. Cryopreserved skin allografts that fail bacterial or fungal screening are reworked into 'sterile' non-viable glycerolised skin allografts. The transposition of the European Human Cell and Tissue Directives into Belgian Law has prompted us to install a pragmatic microbiological screening and acceptance procedure, which is based on 14 day enrichment broth cultures of finished product samples and treats the complex issues of 'acceptable bioburden' and 'absence of objectionable organisms'. In this paper we evaluate this procedure applied on 148 skin donations. An incubation time of 14 days allowed for the detection of an additional 16.9% (25/148) of contaminated skin compared to our classic 3 day incubation protocol and consequently increased the share of non-viable glycerolised skin with 8.4%. Importantly, 24% of these slow-growing microorganisms were considered to be potentially pathogenic. In addition, we raise the issue of 'representative sampling' of heterogeneously contaminated skin. In summary, we feel that our present microbiological testing and acceptance procedure assures adequate patient safety and skin availability. The question remains, however, whether the supposed increased safety of our skin grafts outweighs the reduced overall clinical performance and the increase in work load and costs.
Cell and Tissue Banking 04/2011; 13(2):287-95. · 1.17 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human donor skin allografts are suitable and much used temporary biological (burn) wound dressings. They prepare the excised wound bed for final autografting and form an excellent substrate for revascularisation and for the formation of granulation tissue. Two preservation methods, glycerol preservation and cryopreservation, are commonly used by tissue banks for the long-term storage of skin grafts. The burn surgeons of the Queen Astrid Military Hospital preferentially use partly viable cryopreserved skin allografts. After mandatory 14-day bacterial and mycological culture, however, approximately 15% of the cryopreserved skin allografts cannot be released from quarantine because of positive culture. To maximize the use of our scarce and precious donor skin, we developed a glycerolisation-based recovery method for these culture positive cryopreserved allografts. The inactivation and preservation method, described in this paper, allowed for an efficient inactivation of the colonising bacteria and fungi, with the exception of spore-formers, and did not influence the structural and functional aspects of the skin allografts.
Cell and Tissue Banking 03/2011; 13(1):1-7. · 1.17 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Since 1987, keratinocytes have been cultured at the Queen Astrid Military Hospital. These keratinocytes have been used routinely as auto and allografts on more than 1,000 patients, primarily to accelerate the healing of burns and chronic wounds. Initially the method of Rheinwald and Green was used to prepare cultured epithelial autografts, starting from skin samples from burn patients and using animal-derived feeder layers and media containing animal-derived products. More recently we systematically optimised our production system to accommodate scientific advances and legal changes. An important step was the removal of the mouse fibroblast feeder layer from the cell culture system. Thereafter we introduced neonatal foreskin keratinocytes (NFK) as source of cultured epithelial allografts, which significantly increased the consistency and the reliability of our cell production. NFK master and working cell banks were established, which were extensively screened and characterised. An ISO 9001 certified Quality Management System (QMS) governs all aspects of testing, validation and traceability. Finally, as far as possible, animal components were systematically removed from the cell culture environment. Today, quality controlled allograft production batches are routine and, due to efficient cryopreservation, stocks are created for off-the-shelf use. These optimisations have significantly increased the performance, usability, quality and safety of our allografts. This paper describes, in detail, our current cryopreserved allograft production process.
Cell and Tissue Banking 03/2011; 13(1):175-89. · 1.17 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Lamellar body (LB) secretion and terminal differentiation of stratum granulosum (SG) cells are signaled by both protease activated receptor-2 (PAR-2) and caveolin-1 (cav-1).
To address the early dynamics of LB secretion, we examined cytoskeletal remodeling of keratinocytes in 3 mouse models following acute barrier abrogation: hairless mice, PAR-2 knockout (-/-) and cav-1 -/-.
Under basal conditions, globular (G)-actin accumulates in SG cells cytosol, while filamentous (F)-actin is restricted to peri-membrane domains. Barrier abrogation induces the apical movement of F-actin and the retreat of the SG-G-actin front, paralleled by upstream cytoskeletal kinases activation. This phenomenon was both enhanced by PAR-2 agonist, and inhibited by cytochalasin-D and in PAR-2 knockout mice. We found that plasma membrane conformational changes causing LB secretion are controlled by PAR-2-dependent cytoskeletal rearrangements. We next addressed the interaction dynamics between cytoskeleton and plasma membrane following PAR-2-induced actin stress fiber formation in both cav-1 -/- and wildtype cells. Actin stress fiber formation is increased in cav-1 -/- cells prior to and following PAR-2 agonist peptide-treatment, while absence of cav-1 inhibits E-cadherin-mediated cell-to-cell adhesion.
PAR-2 drives cytoskeletal/plasma membrane dynamics that regulate early LB secretion following barrier abrogation, stress fiber formation and keratinocyte adhesion.
Journal of dermatological science 02/2011; 61(2):101-9. · 3.71 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The increasing antibiotic resistance in bacterial populations requires alternatives for classical treatment of infectious diseases and therefore drives the renewed interest in phage therapy. Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a major problem in health care settings and live-stock breeding across the world. This research aims at a thorough microbiological, genomic, and proteomic characterization of S. aureus phage ISP, required for therapeutic applications. Host range screening of a large batch of S. aureus isolates and subsequent fingerprint and DNA microarray analysis of the isolates revealed a substantial activity of ISP against 86% of the isolates, including relevant MRSA strains. From a phage therapy perspective, the infection parameters and the frequency of bacterial mutations conferring ISP resistance were determined. Further, ISP was proven to be stable in relevant in vivo conditions and subcutaneous as well as nasal and oral ISP administration to rabbits appeared to cause no adverse effects. ISP encodes 215 gene products on its 138,339 bp genome, 22 of which were confirmed as structural proteins using tandem electrospray ionization-mass spectrometry (ESI-MS/MS), and shares strong sequence homology with the 'Twort-like viruses'. No toxic or virulence-associated proteins were observed. The microbiological and molecular characterization of ISP supports its application in a phage cocktail for therapeutic purposes.
PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(9):e24418. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pseudomonas aeruginosa causes severe nosocomial pneumonia in Intensive Care Unit (ICU) patients, with an increased prevalence of multiresistant strains. We examined the impact of the use of antipseudomonal antibiotic(s) on the susceptibility of P. aeruginosa isolated from ICU patients with clinically suspected hospital-acquired pneumonia collected in five teaching hospitals (110 non-duplicate initial isolates; 62 clonal pairs of initial and last isolates during treatment). Minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) were determined for amikacin, ciprofloxacin, meropenem, piperacillin/tazobactam (TZP), cefepime and ceftazidime (used in therapy) as well as five reporter antibiotics (aztreonam, colistin, gentamicin, piperacillin and ticarcillin) using Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) methodology. Susceptibility was assessed according to European Committee on Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing (EUCAST) and CLSI breakpoints. Resistance rates prior to treatment exceeded 25% for cefepime, ceftazidime, piperacillin, ticarcillin and aztreonam (EUCAST and CLSI) and for gentamicin, TZP and colistin (EUCAST only). The highest rates of cross-resistance were noted for ceftazidime and cefepime and the lowest rate for amikacin. Mean MIC values were systematically higher in isolates from patients previously exposed (1 month) to the corresponding antibiotic. For clonal pairs, a systematic increase in MIC between initial and last isolates (significant for amikacin, cefepime, meropenem and TZP) was noted. There was a significant correlation between the use of antibiotics (adjusted for respective proportional use of each drug) and loss of susceptibility at the population level when using EUCAST breakpoints. The high level of resistance of P. aeruginosa in ICU patients with nosocomial pneumonia as well as its further increase during treatment severely narrows the already limited therapeutic options. Further observational studies and the development of early diagnosis for resistant isolates are warranted.
International journal of antimicrobial agents 10/2010; 36(6):513-22. · 3.03 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Since 1991, the skin bank of the Queen Astrid Military Hospital uses food-grade aluminum foil as a primary support for storing cryo preserved human donor skin (511 donors). The possible release of heavy metals into the cryo preservation media (30% (v/v) glycerol in physiological water) and the possible impact this release could have on the quality of the cryo preserved donor skin was evaluated. Aluminum was the principal detection target. Possible contaminants of the aluminum foil as such (arsenic, cadmium, chromium and lead) were also investigated. The evaluation was set up after a Belgian Competent Authority inspection remark. Aluminum was detected at a concentration of 1.4 mg/l, arsenic and lead were not detected, while cadmium and chromium were detected in trace element quantities. An histological analysis revealed no differences between cryo preserved and fresh donor skin. No adverse reactions in patients, related to the presence of aluminum or heavy metal traces, were reported since the introduction of the cryo preserved donor skin in our burn wound centre.
Cell and Tissue Banking 02/2010; 12(3):241-6. · 1.17 Impact Factor