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Investigating the Impact of Combination Phage and Antibiotic Therapy: A Modeling Study

Abstract

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a serious threat to global health today. The spread of AMR, along with the lack of new drug classes in the antibiotic pipeline, has resulted in a renewed interest in phage therapy, which is the use of bacteriophages to treat pathogenic bacterial infections. This therapy, which was successfully used to treat a variety of infections in the early twentieth century, had been largely dismissed due to the discovery of easy to use antibiotics. However, the continuing emergence of antibiotic resistance has motivated new interest in the use of phage therapy to treat bacterial infections. Though various models have been developed to address the AMR-related issues, there are very few studies that consider the effect of phage-antibiotic combination therapy. Moreover, some biological details such as the effect of the immune system on phage have been neglected. To address these limitations, we utilized a mathematical model to examine the role of the immune response in concert with phage-antibiotic combination therapy compounded with the effects of the immune system on the phages being used for treatment. We explore the effect of phage-antibiotic combination therapy by adjusting the phage and antibiotics dose or altering the timing. The model results show that it is important to consider the host immune system in the model and that frequency and dose of treatment are important considerations for the effectiveness of treatment. Our study can lead to development of optimal antibiotic use and further reduce the health risks of the human-animal-plant-ecosystem interface caused by AMR.

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