Once upon a time in late summer 2015, Charité Research Organisation GmbH had invited phage experts to a first brainstorming meeting in Berlin with the aim to advance the development of bacteriophages as an approved therapy. Starting from this meeting, the project Phage4Cure emerged in its current constellation.
The participating institutes and scientists introduce themselves below:
Leibniz-Institut DSMZ-Deutsche Sammlung von Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen GmbH (Braunschweig)
DSMZ GmbH is one of the largest bioresource centres in the world. The ISO 9001 certified collection currently comprises more than 50,000 cultures of various microorganisms and cell lines and offers comprehensive scientific services. The phage collection is part of the Department of Bioresources for Bioeconomics and Health Research and is a unique feature of the DSMZ among the European bioresource centres. Approximately 800 different phages are part of the collection, the focus is on phages against bacteria of the “ESKAPE” group, common pathogens that are particularly problematic in the clinic due to their antibiotic resistance. The large number of DSMZ phages against Pseudomonas aeruginosa is of special benefit to Phage4Cure and the ideal prerequisite for the research and development part of the project: to select biologically optimally composed phage preparations to be used as medical drug in patients.
In the phage working group at DSMZ GmbH, there are three scientists working on Phage4Cure:
- Dr. Christine Rohde (head of phage working group; microbiologist). Dr. Rohde coordinates the DSMZ part of Phage4Cure and takes care of organizational aspects and acquisition of resources.
- Dr. Imke Korf (scientific assistant; biochemist). Dr. Korf is responsible for planning, implementation, evaluation and documentation of the phage experiments.
- Dr. Johannes Wittmann (scientific assistant; microbiologist). Dr. Wittmann works on the genome sequencing of phages and bacteria and the bioinformatic genome analysis.
Fraunhofer-Institut für Toxikologie und Experimentelle Medizin (ITEM, Braunschweig und Hannover)
The Fraunhofer ITEM is a contract research institute with six different business areas related to human health where one focus is on respiratory research. The ITEM has been developing biotechnological processes for many years, in particular pharmaceutical applications. It has been licensed to manufacture active substances for clinical trials for more than 20 years and has been carrying out many projects for the manufacture of active substances in various substance classes.
The following scientists are involved in the Phage4Cure project:
- Dr. Holger Ziehr (division director pharmaceutical biotechnology, biologist with additional training in chemistry and pharmaceutics). Dr. Ziehr is responsible for the bioprocess development and the GMP production of the phage preparation.
- Dr. Anton Roß
- Dr. Sarah Wienecke (scientific assistant; biotechnologist). Dr. Wienecke is responsible for cultivation and processing of the phages.
- Dr. Claudius Seitz
- Dr. Sabine Wronski (group leader infection & immunology in preclinical pharmacology and toxicology; biologist). Dr. Wronski is responsible for the detection of phage activity after nebulisation as well as the determination of phage titres in the toxicological samples.
- Dr. Franziska Dahlmann (Head of Toxicology, Deputy Head of Animal House in the area of Preclinical Pharmacology and Toxicology; Veterinarian). Dr. Dahlmann is responsible for the coordination and conducting of animal toxicological testing.
Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin: Medical Department, Division of Infectiology and Pneumonology (research group pulmonary inflammation)
In addition to university health care and teaching, there are intensive research activities at the Medical Department, Division of Infectiology and Pneumonology. The research group “pulmonary inflammation” under the direction of Prof. Martin Witzenrath consists of experienced clinicians, scientists from various fields, doctoral students and technical staff who investigate new therapeutic perspectives for the treatment of lung diseases. One research focus is on bacterial-host interaction in the lung (e.g. SFB-TR84 “Innate Immunity of the Lung”; CAPSyS “Systems Medicine of Community Acquired Pneumonia”).
The following scientists from the pulmonary inflammation research group are involved in the project:
- Prof. Dr. Martin Witzenrath (deputy director of the medical department, division of infectiology and pneumonology; head of the research group pulmonary inflammation; specialist in internal medicine, infectiology). Prof. Witzenrath is in charge of the preclinical studies at the Charité and is involved in the planning and conduct of the clinical study.
- Dr. Sandra Wienhold (scientific assistant; veterinarian). Dr. Wienhold is responsible for the preclinical testing of the phages.
- Markus Brack (scientific assistant, physician). Mr. Brack supports the preclinical activities.
- Silke Dusatko (MTA, Dipl. Ing. biotechnology, biology laboratory assistant). Mrs. Dusatko supports the preclinical activities.
Charité Research Organisation GmbH (CRO, Berlin)
The CRO is a scientifically driven contract research organisation conducting clinical studies, often in close cooperation with various departments of the Charité. The focus is on demanding phase I and II studies in practically all medical indications which are carried out in their own research unit with more than 60 beds at the Campus Mitte of the Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin. As part of one of the most renowned university clinics in Europe, the CRO is committed to the scientific tradition of the Charité and therefore dedicates itself to interesting research projects which are not or not yet in the focus of the pharmaceutical industry. The first application of the phage preparation in humans will take place at the research unit of the CRO. In addition, the CRO will provide organisational and regulatory support for the entire project, handle data management, statistics and the preparation of the clinical study report.
The following CRO professionals and scientists are part of the project:
- Dr. Andreas Hüser (meanwhile discontinued).
- Dr. Rita Hertrampf (head of scientific service; specialist in clinical pharmacology). As a former BfArM executive, Dr. Hertrampf is responsible for regulatory aspects.
- Jeanette Lehmann, M.Sc. (project management; molecular biologist). Mrs. Lehmann is the project manager of the project in the CRO.
- Dr. Quirino Schefer (scientific assistant; molecular biologist). Dr. Schefer supports the project in preclinical and regulatory questions.
- Dr. Markus Uhle (scientific assistant; physician, master in humanitarian assistance). Dr. Uhle supported the successful grant application, will help to set up the upcoming clinical study and administers this website.