Historical Reflections of the Trials and Tribulations of Phage Therapy: 1930-1950

Dr. William Summers, Professor (Retired) of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, and History of Science and Medicine, Yale University, USA will join the Phage Therapy Congress to present a talk entitled “Historical Reflections of the Trials and Tribulations of Phage Therapy: 1930-1950”.

The therapeutic uses of bacteriophages came immediately to mind upon their recognition by Félix d’Herelle in 1917.  D’Herelle had already pioneered the use of another microbe (now believed to be Acetobacter aerogenes) for the biological control of the Mexican grasshopper.  In the time before effective chemotherapies or antibiotics, physicians quickly became interested in the potential of phages as antibacterial treatments.  The medical literature blossomed with reports of phage trials of various sorts. 

By the early 1930s, reports on phage trials were both numerous and often contradictory.  Several “authoritative” reviews were undertaken to provide practitioners with the latest understanding of this new treatment option.  Rather than providing provisional answers, these reviews, for the most part, added to the uncertainty surrounding phage therapy.  These uncertainties would remain until at least 1950 when other factors led to disillusionment in phage therapy.  These factors included the growing availability of “wonder drugs,” i.e., antibiotics that were easier to produce, standardize, and administer, and the politization of science during the cold war years. 

Against this background, Dr. Summers will examine some of the real scientific problems that contributed to the confusion of this period and the role new phage biology would play in the current resurgence of rational phage therapy.

Join the congress to benefit from the experience of professionals like Dr. Summers.

Targeting Phage Therapy 2023
6th World Conference
June 1-2, 2023 – Paris, France