Expanding clinical phage microbiology: simulating phage inhalation for respiratory tract infections

ERJ Open Res. 2021 Nov 8;7(4):00367-2021. doi: 10.1183/23120541.00367-2021. eCollection 2021 Oct.


Phage therapy is a promising antibacterial strategy for resistant respiratory tract infections. Phage inhalation may serve this goal; however, it requires a careful assessment of their delivery by this approach. Here we present an in vitro model to evaluate phage inhalation. Eight phages, most of which target pathogens common in cystic fibrosis, were aerosolised by jet nebuliser and administered to a real-scale computed tomography-derived 3D airways model with a breathing simulator. Viable phage loads reaching the output of the nebuliser and the tracheal level of the model were determined and compared to the loaded amount. Phage inhalation resulted in a diverse range of titre reduction, primarily associated with the nebulisation process. No correlation was found between phage delivery to the phage physical or genomic dimensions. These findings highlight the need for tailored simulations of phage delivery, ideally by a patient-specific model in addition to proper phage matching, to increase the potential of phage therapy success.