Safety and Tolerability of Bacteriophage Therapy for Chronic Rhinosinusitis Due to Staphylococcus aureus

JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2019 Aug 1;145(8):723-729. doi: 10.1001/jamaoto.2019.1191.


Importance: Staphylococcus aureus infections are associated with recalcitrant chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS). The emerging threat of multidrug-resistant S aureus infections has revived interest in bacteriophage (phage) therapy.

Objective: To investigate the safety, tolerability, and preliminary efficacy of ascending multiple intranasal doses of investigational phage cocktail AB-SA01 in patients with recalcitrant CRS due to S aureus.

Design, setting, and participants: This phase 1, first-in-humans, open-label clinical trial of multiple ascending doses was conducted at a single tertiary referral center from December 1, 2015, through September 30, 2016, with follow-up completed on December 31, 2016. Patients with recalcitrant CRS (aged 18-70 years) in whom surgical and medical treatment had failed and who had positive S aureus cultures sensitive to AB-SA01 were recruited. Findings were analyzed from February 2 through August 31, 2017.

Interventions: Three patient cohorts (3 patients/cohort) received serial doses of twice-daily intranasal irrigations with AB-SA01 at a concentration of 3 × 108 plaque-forming units (PFU) for 7 days (cohort 1), 3 × 108 PFU for 14 days (cohort 2), and 3 × 109 PFU for 14 days (cohort 3).

Main outcomes and measures: The primary study outcome was the safety and tolerability of intranasal AB-SA01. Safety observations included vital signs, physical examinations, clinical laboratory test results, and adverse events. The secondary outcome was preliminary efficacy assessed by comparing pretreatment and posttreatment microbiology results, disease-relevant endoscopic Lund-Kennedy Scores, and symptom scores using a visual analog scale and Sino-Nasal Outcome Test-22.

Results: All 9 participants (4 men and 5 women; median age, 45 years [interquartile range, 41.0-71.5 years]) completed the trial. Intranasal phage treatment was well tolerated, with no serious adverse events or deaths reported in any of the 3 cohorts. No change in vital signs occurred before and 0.5 and 2.0 hours after administration of AB-SA01 and at the exit visit. No changes in biochemistry were found except for 1 participant in cohort 3 who showed a decrease in blood bicarbonate levels on exit visit, with normal results of physical examination and vital signs. All biochemistry values were normalized 8 days later. No changes in temperature were recorded before, during, or after treatment. Six adverse effects were reported in 6 participants; all were classified as mild treatment-emergent adverse effects and resolved by the end of the study. Preliminary efficacy results indicated favorable outcomes across all cohorts, with 2 of 9 patients showing clinical and microbiological evidence of eradication of infection.

Conclusions and relevance: Intranasal irrigation with AB-SA01 of doses to 3 × 109 PFU for 14 days was safe and well tolerated, with promising preliminary efficacy observations. Phage therapy could be an alternative to antibiotics for patients with CRS.

Trial registration: identifier: ACTRN12616000002482.