How are bacteriophages (phages) produced?

Three types of phages used to prepare diluted solutions in a French hospital (ROMAIN LAFABREGUE / AFP / Getty)

How is a phage produced?

Bacteriophage as a virus needs a host cell to multiply, to be specific these particles will need a certain bacteria to support their multiplication. Scientists use the same method in the artificial production simply by introducing a bacteriophage to the bacteria of interest in a culture media for a certain period of time to allow the infection of the bacteria by the phage and hence the multiplication of the virus. (For a technical bit of this information please visit phage sample collection, phage isolation, and purification).

Phage production can be:

Small scale phage production

Most happen in research laboratories, for experimental purposes, one may not need a bulk amount of phages while running experiments. Most characterization and phage susceptibility testing are done during small-scale phage production. Research and development for large-scale productions happen in a small scale manner before bulking the production into larger volumes.

Large scale phage production (Industrial-scale production)

As the name suggests, most happens in industries, well-established production lines for industries run large production mostly for commercial use. While small scale involves few people large-scale production involves many people from lead scientists to technicians. 

What are Phages used for?

Bacteriophages are used for a variety of purposes 

According to the Centers for disease control & prevention CDC, at least 23,000 people in the United States & around 33,000 people in Europe die due to antibiotic-resistant infections. With increasing inpatient care there has been a rise in the adoption of bacteriophage in phage research centers, along with bacteriophage supplements. Expect to see more and more phage-based products in near future.

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