Academic Venture Fund - 2010

Bacteriophages for the Dairy Industry

Microscopic image of a bacteriophage

Replacing antibiotics for food animals with naturally occurring bacteriophages—viruses that infect bacteria—would decrease environmental contamination with antibiotics. Bacteriophages are the perfect antimicrobial agents: specific to a few bacterial species or even strains, they are nontoxic to mammals. Research scientists will isolate and evaluate new bacteriophages and develop mathematical models to optimize a phage cocktail. The study will culminate in a clinical trial on 900 dairy cows, leading to an economic model for evaluating the cost-effectiveness of phage therapy for commercial dairy farms. This research promises to harness the antibacterial power of bacteriophages, replacing antibiotics for the treatment of common bovine diseases—and may eventually lead to phage therapies for human diseases.

Investigators: Rodrigo Bicalho, Peter Frazier, Thorsten Joachims