One of the main issues with phage therapy from its earliest days has been the selection of appropriate disease targets. In early work, when the nature of bacteriophages was unknown, many inappropriate targets were selected, including some now known to have no bacterial involvement whatsoever. More recently, with greatly increased understanding of the highly specific nature of bacteriophages and of their mechanisms of action, it has been possible to select indications with an increased chance of a successful therapeutic outcome. The factors to be considered include the characteristics of the infection to be treated, the characteristics of the bacteria involved, and the characteristics of the bacteriophages themselves. At a later stage all of this information then informs trial design and regulatory considerations. Where the work is undertaken towards the development of a commercial product it is also necessary to consider the planned market, protection of intellectual property, and the sourcing of funding to support the work. It is clear that bacteriophages are not a “magic bullet”. However, with careful and appropriate selection of a limited set of initial targets, it should be possible to obtain proof of concept for the many elements required for the success of phage therapy. In time, success with these initial targets could then support more widespread use.
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