Locus Biosciences announced that it has completed the world’s first clinical trial using a CRISPR-enhanced bacteriophage therapy in which CRISPR-Cas3 improved the natural ability of the virus to kill the E. coli bacteria behind urinary tract infections.
The company decided to take a nuclear approach and to become the first company to combine both mechanisms, using both the lytic properties of bacteriophage and the DNA-destroying enzymatic properties of CRISPR-Cas3, thus increasing the killing capacity of naturally lytic phages. The co-founder and Scientific Director of Locus Biosciences explains that the study gives him hope that modified bacteriophages could one day become a new weapon in the fight against the growing threat of antimicrobial resistant strains of bacteria.
During Phase I of the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial called LBP-EC01, the research team did not see a single drug-related adverse event throughout the experiment. Phage therapy therefore has no impact at all on human cells. As a result, it is a much more accurate tool for killing bacteria than broad-spectrum antibiotics or other therapies currently in use. More importantly, data suggest that it is safe for humans, even at high doses. Phase II will therefore begin shortly.