Almost 100 years after the discovery of the first antibiotics, bacterial infections continue to be one of the most challenging health problems and impose a tremendous burden on our health care system. Yet, the common treatment approach still consists of administration of antibiotics. However, this practice causes adverse medical and socioeconomic effects, including the development of antibiotic resistance and disruption of the normal microbiome.
Therefore, eight research groups of the University of Zurich, ETH Zurich, University Hospital Zurich, and Balgrist University Hospital have joined forces to develop a fundamentally new therapeutic option - the "ImmunoPhage" project. The aim is to equip bacteriophages, i.e. viruses that exclusively attack bacteria, with elements that specifically support immune defenses. The combination of antimicrobial activity with immunomodulatory properties of these immunophages forms a generalizable, sustainable and tailored approach for the treatment of bacterial infections, and potentially also inflammatory diseases.