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Bacteriophage Research

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The bacterial population in your gut plays an important role in keeping you healthy. If that delicate human-bacterial ecosystem is disrupted, it can lead to diseases such as colitis, obesity, and depression. In the gut there are many viruses that exclusively infect bacteria (bacteriophages, or “phages” for short), but little is known about them or their impact on us. Our research aims to determine the roles phages play in shaping microbial populations within us, as well as to learn to manipulate the phages to influence the microbiota.

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Bacteriophages are natural predators of bacteria and the most abundant biological entities on earth. They exist in all niches of the biosphere, including the human body. Bacteriophages are powerful yet gentle antibacterial agents with distinct advantages over antibiotics (highly targeted antimicrobial action, on site amplification, rapid evolution, remarkable diversity) and can be administered alone or in combination with other antimicrobials as part of a treatment regimen. Design and administration of phage therapeutics, however, relies on century old tools and is in desperate need of custom-designed technologies that meet the standard of care in modern medicine. This is an area where bioengineering can be a game changer and research in the phage bioengineering in the Hosseinidoust lab aims to achieve this goal in collaboration with Farncombe Institute members Dr. Verdu and Dr. Galipeau for the establishing of novel gnotobiotic models to study phage therapy in colitis. The phage bioengineering research in the Hosseinidoust lab focuses on three pillars, namely biomaterials engineering, interfacial engineering, and particle engineering. We design point-of-care technologies to rapidly screen for target phage, administer phage in a manner that does not deactivate phage because of harsh local environment or interference, induce an adverse immune response, minimize multiple repeat administrations, and do not disturb the delicate healing niche microbiome while actively resisting infection.

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