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Journal of Immunology Research
Volume 2017, Article ID 3780697, 13 pages
https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/3780697
Review Article

Bacteriophages and Their Immunological Applications against Infectious Threats

1Microbiology and Virology Unit, Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, Milan, Italy
2Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, Milan, Italy
3Neurobiology of Learning Unit, Division of Neuroscience, San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milan, Italy
4Laboratory of Microbiology and Virology, San Raffaele Hospital, Milan, Italy

Correspondence should be addressed to Elena Criscuolo; ti.rsh@anele.oloucsirc

Received 4 November 2016; Accepted 19 March 2017; Published 18 April 2017

Academic Editor: Kurt Blaser

Copyright © 2017 Elena Criscuolo et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Bacteriophage therapy dates back almost a century, but the discovery of antibiotics led to a rapid decline in the interests and investments within this field of research. Recently, the novel threat of multidrug-resistant bacteria highlighted the alarming drop in research and development of new antibiotics: 16 molecules were discovered during 1983–87, 10 new therapeutics during the nineties, and only 5 between 2003 and 2007. Phages are therefore being reconsidered as alternative therapeutics. Phage display technique has proved to be extremely promising for the identification of effective antibodies directed against pathogens, as well as for vaccine development. At the same time, conventional phage therapy uses lytic bacteriophages for treatment of infections and recent clinical trials have shown great potential. Moreover, several other approaches have been developed in vitro and in vivo using phage-derived proteins as antibacterial agents. Finally, their use has also been widely considered for public health surveillance, as biosensor phages can be used to detect food and water contaminations and prevent bacterial epidemics. These novel approaches strongly promote the idea that phages and their proteins can be exploited as an effective weapon in the near future, especially in a world which is on the brink of a “postantibiotic era.”