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Development of hydrogel based high-throughput host-range screening for therapeutic bacteriophages

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Title: Development of hydrogel based high-throughput host-range screening for therapeutic bacteriophages
Author(s): Patpatia, Sheetal
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Medicine
Degree program: Master's Programme in Translational Medicine
Specialisation: Cross-disciplinary translational medicine
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2020
Antibiotic resistance of pathogenic bacteria has increased in recent years. When antibiotics do not work, alternative therapies are developed to prevent major bacterial epidemics. Phage therapy is one of the alternative possibilities to cure infections caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria. Due to the narrow host range of phages, hundreds or even thousands of phages are required to cover the various bacterial pathogens. For a reliable selection process, high-throughput rapid host range screening of phages is needed to cover the future demands. In addition, collaboration between laboratories is highly important, as the collections of phages of individual laboratories are not broad enough. Thus, the transportation of phages between laboratories is one of the key elements to provide successful phage therapy for patients. The aim of the study was to use gel-based products as protective matrix in phage host-range screening and transportation. The optimal conditions were selected to set a baseline for high-throughput rapid host range screening process, and to set up a ready-to-screen plate assay for phage transportation. In addition, the purpose of the study was to evaluate whether hydrogels could be used as a long-term storage matrix for phages and future product development. Fourteen Escherichia coli phages were used to optimize the liquid culture assay for the E.coli strains. The hydrogel based assays were conducted with two Escherichia and two Staphylococcus phages. For long-term storage, phages were mixed with different consistencies of hydrogels and stored in three different conditions for up to six months at +4oC. The transportation experiments were conducted with phages stored with optimized hydrogel consistencies. The phage viability was measured using liquid culture method. Results show that liquid culture method on microtiter plate is a convenient way to screen bacteriophages in high-throughput assay and that phages can be stored reliably in hydrogel format. When stored in microcentrifuge tubes, phage stability was shown to last for at least six months. When stored as drops on microtiter plate, the phages retained their viability for up to two months. These plates can be used as a robust means for phage transportation.
Keyword(s): Phage therapy Bacteriophages Host-range screening high-throughput therapeutic phages

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