Blog on Life wellbeing bacteriophages the hidden truth

Bacteriophages: The hidden truth

Bacteriophages have helped me regain a normal life. No one in this life is perfect. However, there is one thing I am ashamed of. I am ashamed that my 17-year-old nephew knows more about bacteriophages than I do. I’m ashamed that because the EU, along with the US, have not figured a way to make bacteriophages profitable for them, I was not educated about phages in high school when I was studying biology and didn’t get the chance to put 2 and 2 together sooner.

Come to think about it, I’m not so much ashamed for myself but for those in power, who, instead of giving people solutions, use accuses like ‘lack of data’ (towards a discovery that has been used for the past 100 years and has been in manufacturing mode for the past 60 years or so), to justify their delay in placing a safe and possible solution for many. Or maybe it’s their pride, that back in the day they made a wrong bet and we are now suffering the consequences. Instead of developing both the antibiotic industry and phage industry, they shadowed one to boost the other. Yet it is us, who now pay the price.

Recent studies predict that in 30 years, a death toll of 2.4 million people across Europe, North America, and Australia combined, will be due to antibiotic resistance and the rise of superbugs. 50% of antibiotics are currently used incorrectly, in the instance of antibiotics being prescribed for viral infections. The World Health Organisation has come up with nothing more than to divide antibiotics into three categories; available, supervised, and on standby. While this battle with antibiotic resistance continues, there are other options out there that are being kept in the dark; bacteriophages.

History of Bacteriophages

It is truly impressive to see the blank look on the faces of doctors when they are asked about bacteriophages. They were first discovered around 100 years ago, which in time is practically nothing, yet so few know of phages today. Believe it or not, but bacteriophages were the topic of discussion back in the day, yet something happened, which practically erased them from our history and made them unknown to many.

Let’s take a brief look at the timeline of events surrounding bacteriophages:

  • In 1915 Fredrick W. Twort, a British bacteriologist discovered a small agent that kills bacteria.
  • In 1917, Félix d’Hérelle, a French-Canadian microbiologist, announces “an invisible, antagonistic microbe of the dysentery bacillus”, based on his independent discovery.
  • In 1919, d’Hérelle successfully treats his first patient from dysentery using phage therapy.
  • In 1920 travelled to Indochina furthering his research into cholera and the plague.
  • In 1921, d’Hérelle publishes a monography “The Bacteriophage: Its Role in Immunity” which results in an explosive reaction from doctors and scientists across western Europe.
  • D’Hérelle was positioned with the Conseil Sanitaire, Maritime et Quarantenaire d’Egypte in Alexandria, to help prevent the spreading of cholera and the plague.
  • In 1925 D’Hérelle successfully treated four bubonic plague patients by injecting anti-plague bacteriophages into the lymph nodes.
  • In 1926 the British government in India requested anti-plague phage trials at the Haffkine Institute which resulted in D’Hérelle developing a treatment for the cholera epidemic.
  • D’Hérelle accepts a professorship at Yale University.
  • In the 1920s, phage-laced powders were being sold in the US and Europe over the counter, as the pharmaceutical companies took on phage production. Meanwhile, D’Hérelle agrees to co-found a French phage-producing company and reinvests money from products back into phage research.
  • Phage production suffered as pharmaceutical companies attempted to mass-produce an individualized product and as a result, damaged the products and produced it incorrectly. In addition, the wrong diagnosis led to wrong phages being used on patients, resulting in no results.
  • In the late 1920s, bacteriophage therapy is a popular area of research. D’Hérelle develops therapies for preventative measures as well as treatments for disease sufferers. Apart from 7 treatments, D’Hérelle successfully treated patients against typhoid fever, Bacillus anthracis, and Staphylococcus with bacteriophages.

Phages were so popular that at the time, that American author Sinclair Lewis even wrote a novel, Arrowsmith (1925) around the topic of how phages helped a fictional character, on a fictional island face the bubonic plague. Sinclair also won the Pulitzer Prize for his publication in 1926. In 1931, Arrowsmith was turned into a film starring Ronald Colman and was nominated for four Academy Awards (including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Art Direction, and Best Cinematography).

  • In the late 1920s – early 1930s, Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin opens new possibilities that attract the attention of pharmaceutical companies.
  • In 1934, D’Hérelle went to Tbilisi, Georgia, and was welcomed as a hero in the Soviet Union. He worked closely with his friend, George Eliava (founder of the Tbilisi Institute in 1923).
  • In 1935, D’Hérelle published his book “The Bacteriophage and the Phenomenon of Recovery”.

From this point onwards, bacteriophages became less and less spoken of. Antibiotics were placed in the spotlight, as they were easier to deal with and produced by pharmaceutical companies, therefore phages were put into the shadows.

Bacteriophages, practically disappeared from most countries, except, of course, Georgia, Russia, and Poland, where phage libraries still remain and patients are still being seen (in the case of Georgia). The deciding factor for pharmaceutical companies at the time seemed to be that it was more practical and profitable for them to produce antibiotics. Bacteriophages are complex, mysterious, some even say ‘quasi-living’ beings that hold an entire world of possibilities, that pharmaceutical companies seemed to think we’re not worth spending time discovering. Coming back to today, it seems like today we are facing a similar situation of the past. Seems like it has less to do with lack of research (because certainly, a combination of research stretched across decades from those that kept the phage therapy and research going, would cover that subject), but more to do with their profit interests.

Unfortunately to pharmaceutical companies, today they no longer have the luxury of choosing phages or antibiotics. Due to their eagerness to make money in the past, we now face a real problem with antibiotic resistance and the devastating increase of superbugs. Today, they are forced to look into phage therapy, because at the end of the day, their business can’t survive if there aren’t patients to sell their products to.

If D’herielle, acted like the majority of the scientific community today, we still wouldn’t know of bacteriophages. When you read about his journey, you’ll notice that he barely had anything but his willpower and goal to work with. And yet, he achieved so much with every year.

Bacteriophages and antibiotics

To shine a brighter light on the severity of today’s situation, forecasts show that by the year 2050, superbugs will kill more people than cancer and diabetes combined. Currently, superbugs take the lives of approximately 700,000 people a year due to antibiotic resistance and the numbers will keep growing immensely until a proper solution is placed into action.

There is no battle between antibiotics and bacteriophages. It is incorrect to assume that the two are the same and can begin to compete on the same field. They are both vital in our society, as each has a different function and brings forth different results.

It is important to understand that bacteriophages are highly evolved microorganisms that have maintained the balance of basically all that we know, by targeting bacteria from taking over. Although classified as viruses and found at the bottom of the hierarchy, they are possibly more evolved and certainly more adaptable than, well, us humans. A big misconception is that bacteriophages are referred to as one whole group. It is crucial to understand and distinguish between lytic and lysogenic bacteriophages, as lytic are our forever protectors, whilst lysogenic phages are capable of both destruction and to aid us.

In reality bacteriophages and antibiotics are very different and result in different effects. The common element that is shared by both, is that initially they were discovered from nature. When antibiotics were first being produced, they helped save many lives. Pharmaceutical companies, in order to sell their products, took the chemical compound from a natural source and reproduced it, placing their own signature in the process (need to add something of your own if you want to get that patent).

The problem began when evolution in all its mighty stepped in. The mighty humans who have placed themselves above all other species on top of the food chain were getting defeated by the microorganisms we placed somewhere at the bottom of our hierarchy, bacteria. In the meantime, pharmaceutical companies stuck to the formula they had, making adjustments here and there, but in reality, it is unpredictable as to what changes an organism will decide to make in order to survive. It is safe to say that humans were unable to predict just how well bacteria will adjust to our not-so-powerful defenses and the microorganisms were evolving faster and becoming stronger than humans, who simply couldn’t adjust or keep up.

Recent research shows that due to antibiotic resistance, there are studies into a new type of antibiotics derived from soil, referred to as malacidin. However, this is still in the research phase and if people use the same technique as they did with antibiotics (taking the formula just to be able to patent it and not use it in its full and natural state), chances are, in time, we will end up in the same situation as we are in now.

As for bacteriophages, some go so far as to say that it is because of bacteriophages, that humans have not been wiped out from the face of the planet by bacteria. They are nature’s modulators that create a balance and make sure that bacteria do not have the chance to overrun the planet. They are seen as absolutely harmless to any other life form, except for that particular bacteria that they kill.

Whilst bacteriophages aim towards specific types of bacteria, antibiotics target all bacteria, including the good bacteria we need. In terms of treatment, antibiotics are more general, therefore one pill can work for many, whilst bacteriophages are specific. For phages to be effective, each patient will need to take a specific bacteriophage, for instance, the Intesti phage is a broad phage cocktail that contains phages against E Coli, but the PYO bacteriophage is aimed towards the broad family of Staphylococcus bacteria and bacteria closest to that group.

Antibiotics intake depends on dosage, whilst bacteriophages depend on the phage proximity to the source of bacteria. Unlike antibiotics, where a patient would need to take a certain dose of antibiotics to combat bacterial infection, phages simply need to find their way to the source of infection. Once a phage finds itself in the presence of its particular bacterium, it will begin the process of multiplication and therefore killing the bacterium, as it uses it as a host in order to replicate.

Bacteriophages are viruses, however very complex and not your ordinary simple organisms. Apart from targeting and devouring specific bacteria, they also seem to have the ability to directly interact with the body’s immune cells and act as immunoregulators. Bacteriophage therapy, unlike antibiotics, can also be used to prevent bacterial infections and not just address an infection when present. They have also been safely given to children and pregnant women.

The perfect tango

Bacteriophages and antibiotics are capable of working together and in severe cases of antibiotic resistance, the combination of the two creates the perfect trap to bacteria. In the process of evolution, bacteria acquired the properties of protection against bacteriophages. However, when bacteria take the measures to camouflage themselves from being detected by phages, it must lose the biofilm which it has created to protect itself from antibiotics. It is at this moment when the bacteria attempt to protect itself from phages, does it become vulnerable to antibiotics. Patients that suffer from severe antibiotic resistance or are being attacked by superbugs are given a dosage of bacteriophages together with antibiotics. This allows the phages to force the resistant bacteria to attempt to hide from the bacteriophages, whilst compromising its protective shield to antibiotics.

Doctors and patients

Patients go to doctors to seek help. We are not all medical experts and therefore seek help from those that have spent years studying the science, to now help us deal with our discomfort. I come from a family of doctors and my parents always told me that a doctor’s job is to cure the patient and not the symptoms. The numerous doctors I have seen over the years for my Hidradenitis suppurativa have left me puzzled as to how many of them didn’t even know what HS was. However, I never seemed to walk out of the doctor’s office without a prescription.

These situations made me wonder what exactly was the role of a doctor, except for giving out slips of papers with yet another medication for a condition they seem to know little or nothing about? Have doctors really become so comfortable with their stable wage that the aspect of helping patients and looking into conditions that they never came across, seems like a boring adventure? Or is it possible that the medical system changed so much that they are simply blocked away from digging too deep and curiosity may actually cost them their career?

A misdiagnosis can shatter a patient’s life into a million little pieces. I’m not only referring to the mental aspect but also the physical. One misdiagnosis can lead a patient to the wrong path of treatment and cause even more harm. As a patient, I will happily take “I’m honestly not quite sure what you have” or a proud guess from a doctor followed by yet another prescription. Doctors need to take responsibility for their patients and not only give the worst-case scenarios to cover themselves and throw a diagnosis onto patients like it’s Halloween candy. They should have a little concern on how their words may change the patient’s life entirely and not just care about getting through the line of patients and handing out prescriptions as fast as possible.

There are a few doctors, in comparison to the majority, that still remember the oath they took to do no harm. Those few are looking into ways of actually helping patients, rather than viewing them as a stable income whilst their degrees collect dust on the walls. These innovators should be allowed to help shape the world for the better, and not be shut down by rules that were created to protect those who place their pride and money first, by seeing an income in the suffering of others. A better future depends on those who look beyond the money and use their skills to help shape the world of tomorrow.

The medical system, or shall I say, business, is built in such a way that doctors have their hands tied. As we know losing a license is a very real thing and in today’s world, it seems that all their education summed up to them simply being the buffer with a pad to write out prescriptions for pharmaceutical companies to give to patients like candy. Their position in this entire system seems to be the weakest, as their career is highly dependable on those that create the medication, and one wrong move can cost them everything they worked for.

The medical community has become too comfortable. There is a system at play that makes everyone in the community, at every level, have a constant monetary flow. This comfort has made them forget that this is not primarily business. People’s lives and wellbeing are at stake. We are more than numbers. So much more that without our suffering, they would be out of a paycheque.

FDA, EMA, and Pharmaceutical companies

In today’s situation, we are led to believe that foundations like the FDA, EMA, and pharmaceutical companies have our best interests at heart. Let’s for a moment also remind ourselves that without us, the patients, their business would cease to exist. The reality of our situation is that, although sounding harsh, we are the bread, butter, and large paycheques to those in the FDA, EMA, pharmaceutical companies, and the entire medical community. Without sick people, they have no means of making money and their stronghold is vaster than we think.

I am aware that many people trust the FDA and EMA, and a simple phrase like “It is FDA approved”, places patients at ease. I am not one of those people. In fact, when I hear that something is approved by the FDA and has got pharmaceutical companies pumped and ready to push treatment to the open market, the last thing I feel is trust. I remind myself that power and money never mix well and that the public has, for many years handed over their trust, along with the power to one huge money-making machine that now dictates treatments to that same public.

When looking at pharmaceutical companies (that work so close to the FDA that they can be seen as a family rather than relatives), history will remind us just how far and absurd they are willing to go to make money. When they completely run out of ideas of products to sell, they go to extreme measures of creating problems and creating solutions. One very well-known case was back in 1879 with Listerine. Today they have evolved, and now make sure illnesses are at a constant flow, which gives them an opening to constantly flood the market with new products. Yet, circumstances have changed with the real threat of the superbugs (courtesy of their own creation) and so must the system. It may also be time to make sure the system begins to serve in the actual health interest of the patient and not just in monetary interests of the self.

Bacteria, viruses, everything is evolving… except for our system.

We are now facing change and whether we like it or not, we must make certain adjustments. It may just be that it is the patients, that need to shake up the system that is meant to help, but has been concentrating on profits, and remind them to do their part in providing everyone with ALL the options out there. And not simply filter out the options that work for their interests. People may see themselves above all other species, but at the end of the day, we are animals. And like all the rest, we must evolve and change the structures we invented, in order to keep up with the changes and develop as beings.

Bacteriophages and pharmaceutical companies

Products like bacteriophages are kept in the dark. This is not because they are harmful or lack research. It is simply because pharmaceutical companies haven’t figured out a way on how to make money out of them. Rules that were built to protect them are currently working against them, as phages do not quite fit into the normal product that can be patented. Sometimes the simplest explanation is all there is to it, just follow the money.

There is one main aspect that today seems to be essential for medical products to be able to be on the market. A product must meet the GMP (good manufacturing practice) requirement. For phages, such requirements have been met by at least one company. Yet, most published articles seem to ignore this and focus on pharmaceutical companies not being able to patent phage cocktails. The overall information seems to be misleading. It seems that phages are effective, can be produced (following the GMP requirements), and be placed on the market, but all this is overshadowed by the interest of hefty pockets of pharmaceutical companies since they are still figuring out how to patent the product.

Whilst phage therapy is kept away from the general public, with the excuses of lack of information, some pharmaceutical companies seem to once again uphold their human pride. Phages are extremely complex and unique species that we know little about. Yet, some pharmaceutical companies are already looking at ways of using bacteriophages’ incredible biology and manipulating their DNA to have control over what phages attack. They, of course, place this into the betterment of mankind, such as curing cancer and whatnot.

And I could believe it if I lived my entire life on a different planet. However I have not, so I ask myself; how is phage therapy (that has no side effects) kept from the public under the excuse of ‘not enough research’, yet others are manipulating the genetic material of those same phages to be able to control what they target, whilst claiming to have little knowledge of their nature?

For those wondering why they would genetically modify species that they claim to know little about, it is because once you genetically modify something, it is easier to get a patent. Therefore, you are that much closer to product manufacturing for the open market. They have not even placed pure phage therapy out to the public and are already trying to mess around them. History really doesn’t seem to teach people anything. If the story of antibiotic resistance should teach us anything, it’s that once the few people start to place their monetary interests above the wellbeing of the majority, we mess things up. It’s about time people stop playing god and learn that evolution will always put things into order and we are not going to outsmart it or override it.

Bacteriophages are found everywhere. Allowing the open use of bacteriophages would mean that anyone with access to a lab, a degree in microbiology, and the knowledge on handling the phages, would be able to cultivate and have their own bacteriophage libraries. This is because the raw material, being the bacteriophages themselves, is found literally everywhere. If this was to happen, pharmaceutical companies would lose a lot of money. Pharmaceutical companies would not be able to be the exclusive dealers of phages. Those that work in the black would be able to sell bacteriophages at a lower rate to patients, which would ultimately make patients refuse to buy overpriced phages from pharmaceutical companies and would result in a slim paycheque to pharmaceutical companies.

Support groups and patient alliances with pharmaceutical companies

The situation became clear as I had come across several different systems that pharmaceutical companies use to push their products forward. I had an incident when I posted my experience with bacteriophages and my Hidradenitis suppurativa and was attacked by group administrators which eventually led to being banned. Patients were curious and asked questions, yet the administrators seemed to want to shut me down, aggressively, without giving me a chance to reply. I then went through the profile thoroughly and noticed that the admins were posting, day in and day out, about one specific medication (at that time it was Humira). Later I found out that pharmaceutical companies support patient advocates by building patient alliances and funding them, and in return, these advocates spread the word about their products.

A+ on using micro-influencer marketing to push your products forward (although that industry is slowly dying out). Who knew that pharmaceutical companies would find a new low and use patient advocates as distribution channels by recruiting them to promote their products to their groups of other fellow patients? Apparently, the nonstop drug advertisements on TV (how this is even allowed is a different topic to dive into) aren’t doing it for them. So, they decided to use fashion and beauty brand marketing techniques to sell serious medication, like they’re sweets or something.

As it turns out, some of these advocates, who are there to speak for other patients and protect their interests, are now ready to also join the trend of making money out of other fellow patients. If you think about it, who would patients have more trust towards? A doctor who has done everything to create a thick wall between themselves and a patient (some who do not even hide the fact that they have no idea what to do with your condition but seem to never let a patient go without a prescription) or other patients who suffer from the same condition? Pharmaceutical companies have managed to infiltrate those that patients trust to have their backs.

Bacteriophages used in extreme cases in the EU and USA

Here is a summary of some of the well-known cases where bacteriophages were used on patients:

  • Doctors gave a young girl a 1% chance of surviving after her body was attacked by bacteria. Bacteriophage cocktail gave her the chance to beat the odds. Story on BBC.
  • After 4 years of fighting a devasting infection, a man finally got his health and life back. Story on Business Insider.
  • A superbug sealed a man’s fate. Direct bacteriophage application turned that fate around. Story on The Guardian.

How is it that that the FDA and EMA set the rules on allowing the use of bacteriophages on patients under the state of ‘compassion treatment’ only after all other options have been exhausted? Ironically there is nothing compassionate in making patients become lab rats to test out all the other pharmaceutical options prior to giving them a chance at a treatment that has the least amount of side effects.

It is the patient who pays with their health for the pharmaceutical companies’ profits, so it is the patient who should have the final say on their course of treatment.

It is strange to think that absolute strangers who view patients as mere statistical numbers have the right to decide what course of treatment a patient should take. How is it that the word of the patient, who ultimately is the one paying the price with their health, does not overrule everyone else’s opinion? It is also interesting that with the increase of patients suffering from antibiotic resistance, there really aren’t that many stories of famous people or heads of states facing similar fates. Could it be that none have come face to face with such a matter, or do certain people get special treatment when it comes to their health? (it is not too farfetched to think that certain people have privileges that the public does not after all, money and connections have always found solutions).

In many countries, especially the US and EU, those in power claim that bacteriophages aren’t well documented and don’t seem to fit into the rules and laws that have been laid out for phage therapy for patients. It is good to remember that those same rules and laws were put there not so much for the concerns for the patient but to protect and create stability for those who create products and make a good profit out of patients. The Eliava Institute in Georgia has a library of bacteriophages and has used phage therapy for over 60 years. In some other countries, bacteriophages are not only used in severe cases or as they say ‘compassionate’ cases but are given to large portions of the population for preventative measures, to avoid people getting ill in the first place. Surely places that have practiced phage therapy have documented their work. And yet, still, the US and EU claim that there is insufficient documentation. Maybe it is not the documentation that is the problem, but the question of commerce. Yet, some people, in some countries are actively using and helping people with phage therapy. Maybe they still remember that oath they took to help patients and their degrees are more than a label of some social class or a paycheque.

The reality is that although bacteriophages may not be the solution to all conditions, phages are just one of many options that are kept away from patients. The fact that business-minded strangers are the ones who have a say over the health and options of patients, is the biggest problem in today’s community.

Bacteriophage therapy for my Hidradenitis suppurativa

I was at a crossroads as my Hidradenitis suppurativa had become advanced and constant. I refused to take retinoids, chemo, or surgery. Now there were 2 options, the first being a biologic TNF-alpha blocker by the brand name of Humira and the second option was to take bacteriophages from the Eliava Institute in Tbilisi, Georgia. Without going into too much detail, please see the side effects of retinoids, biologic TNF-alpha blocker, and bacteriophages below, and you will understand why I made the choice I made.

Side effects from Accutane (retinoid)

Source: HS Support – Unique Fun Facts

Most Common Side Effects:

  • Dry skin
  • Itching
  • Rash
  • Dry nose
  • Nosebleeds
  • Cracks in the corners of the mouth
  • Dry mouth
  • Dry lips
  • Cracking or peeling skin
  • Inflammation of the whites of the eyes
  • Dry eyes
  • Joint pain
  • Back pain
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nervousness
  • Changes in your fingernails or toenails

Possible Long-Term Side Effects:

  • Allergic reaction
  • Abdominal pain
  • Poor appetite leading to malnutrition
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Numbness and tingling of hands and feet
  • Weakness
  • Depression
  • Mental illness
  • Hair loss (thinning)
  • Sensitivity to light (see eye problems)
  • Decreased night vision, which may persist after treatment is stopped.
  • Swelling of the feet or ankles
  • Low blood counts (white and red blood cells and platelets may temporarily decrease. This can put you at increased risk for infection, anemia, and/or bleeding).
  • Abnormal blood tests: increased triglyceride, cholesterol, and/or blood sugar levels.
  • Increases in abnormal blood tests measuring liver function.

Rare but Serious Side Effects:

  • Blood clots – Blood clots rarely lead to pulmonary embolus or stroke, potentially life-threatening conditions.
  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) – Mainly noted in blood tests that return to normal after therapy is discontinued. Rarely may be severe causing symptoms. Symptoms of acute pancreatitis include pain in the upper abdomen that worsens with eating, swollen and tender abdomen, nausea, vomiting, fever, and rapid pulse. If these symptoms occur notify your health care professional immediately.
  • APL differentiation syndrome – A very serious side effect that has been observed in patients that have taken medications similar to Accutane for treatment of leukemia, is called. This syndrome is a reaction between the drug and leukemia. This syndrome produces fever, difficulty breathing, weight gain, lung and heart problems. It is generally treated with high-dose steroids. Be sure to let your health care professional know if you experience a fever of 100.4F or 38C, difficulty breathing, or sudden weight gain. Remember not all side effects will happen to everybody. All side effects have to be listed as required by the FDA.

Side effects from Humira (biologic TNF-alpha blocker)

Source: Vidal
  • Infections:

Very often – Respiratory tract infections (including infections of the upper and lower respiratory tract, pneumonia, sinusitis, pharyngitis, nasopharyngitis, and herpes viral pneumonia).

Often – Generalized infections (including sepsis, candidiasis, and influenza), gastrointestinal infections (including viral gastroenteritis), infections of the skin and soft tissues (including paronychia, cellulitis, impetigo, necrotizing fasciitis, and shingles), ear infections, oral infections (including herpes simplex, oral herpes, and teeth), genital infections (including vulvovaginal mycotic infections), urinary tract infections (including pyelonephritis), fungal infections, infections of the joints.

Infrequently – Opportunistic infections and tuberculosis (including coccidioidomycosis, histoplasmosis, and the complex of infections caused by Mycobacterium avium), neurological infections (including viral meningitis), infections of the eye, and bacterial infections.

  • Neoplasms:

Often – Benign neoplasms, skin cancer, other than melanoma (including basal cell carcinoma and scaly cell carcinoma); infrequently – lymphoma, parenchymal neoplasms (including breast cancer, neoplasms of the lung and thyroid gland), melanoma.

  • Blood and lymphatic system:

Very often – Leukopenia (including neutropenia and agranulocytosis), anemia.

Often – Thrombocytopenia, leukocytosis.

Infrequently – Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura.

Rarely – Pancytopenia.

  • Immune system:

Often – Hypersensitivity reactions, allergic reactions (including seasonal allergies).

  • Metabolism: 

Very often – Increasing the concentration of lipids.

Often – Hypokalemia, increased uric acid concentration, abnormal sodium concentration, hypocalcemia, hyperglycemia, hypophosphatemia, dehydration.

  • Mental disorders: 

Often – Mood changes (including depression), anxiety disorders, insomnia.

  • Nervous system: 

Very often – Headaches.

Often – Paresthesia (including hypesthesia), migraine, sciatic nerve neuralgia, vestibular dizziness.

Infrequently – Tremor, neuropathy; rarely – multiple sclerosis.

  • Sensory: 

Often – Conjunctivitis, visual impairment, blepharitis, eyelid edema.

Infrequently – Diplopia, deafness, ringing in the ears.

  • The cardiovascular system: 

Often – Increased blood pressure, hot flashes, hematomas, tachycardia.

Infrequently – Arrhythmia, congestive heart failure, arterial occlusion, thrombophlebitis, aortic aneurysm; rarely – cardiac arrest.

  • Respiratory system: 

Often – Cough, asthma, dyspnea.

Infrequently – COPD, interstitial lung disease, pneumonitis.

  • Digestive system: 

Very often – Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, increased activity of liver enzymes.

Often – Dyspepsia, gastroesophageal reflux, dry mouth, gastrointestinal bleeding.

Infrequently – Pancreatitis, dysphagia, swelling of the face, cholecystitis, cholelithiasis, increased bilirubin concentration, hepatic steatosis.

  • Skin and subcutaneous tissues: 

Very often – A rash (including exfoliative).

Often – Itching, urticaria, hemorrhages (including purpura), dermatitis (including eczema), brittle nails, hyperhidrosis.

Infrequently – night sweats, scars.

  • Musculoskeletal system: 

Very often – Musculoskeletal pain.

Often – Muscle spasms.

Infrequently – Rhabdomyolysis, systemic lupus erythematosus.

  • Genitourinary system: 

Often – Hematuria, renal failure.

Infrequently – Nocturia, erectile dysfunction.

  • Reactions at the injection site: 

Very often – Reactions at the injection site (including erythema).

  • Other side effects: 

Often – Chest pain, swelling, impaired wound healing.

Infrequently – Inflammation.

  • Laboratory indicators: 

Often – Violations of blood coagulation parameters (including an increase in APTT), positive tests for autoantibodies (including antibodies to DNA double helix), an increase in LDH concentration.

Side effects from Bacteriophages

Source: Phage Therapy Center
  • No serious side effects have been described.

A few minor side effects reported therapeutic phages may have been due to the liberation of endotoxins from bacteria lysed in vivo by the phages. Such effects also may be observed when antibiotics are used.

To me, Humira, an FDA-approved medication, was more of a nuclear bomb to deal with a fever. I honestly have a very hard time understanding how physicians easily prescribe Humira to HS patients, as though it’s candy and the worst that can happen is a little sugar rush. It’s a serious medication that may or may not help with your Hidradenitis suppurativa, but also leaves you vulnerable to, well, everything else.

Why is it that the least invasive treatment with non-existent side effects, is kept as a last resort when all else fails? Why must one be a test subject to a bunch of treatments that places them at risk to worsen their condition or make them vulnerable to additional conditions?

The truth is, bacteriophage safety is not of concern. The matter is one of commerce. From the moment when strangers with large appetites were given the power to feed their greed, patients became mere numbers. The focus hasn’t been on health. It’s been about making sure to make the most out of every patient, whilst they’re here. If the patient’s wellbeing was of concern to those involved, then the patient would have the last say and not be treated as a test subject for commercial goods.

If you don’t feel like a number yet, then let’s look at the national health statistics. Particularly to the number of deaths recorded in correspondence to the cause of death. Patients who suffer from certain conditions, for which they are given medications that have no effect on their conditions, but deteriorate their system. Furthermore, causing their depleted system to receive a death sentence from a secondary condition, which a healthy person could easily overcome. Statistics would report the condition that gave them the death sentence, not their primary condition or what wore out their system to the point of no return. The overall picture would show serious conditions to be on the lower spectrum and the overall population would seem to be suffering from common conditions. Final results to conclude that overall, severe conditions have decreased in the country.

Bacteriophages and our future

Am I saying that bacteriophages will solve anyone’s and everyone’s medical conditions? No. The point of this article is to remind people that it is they who hold the power over what gets sold and what doesn’t. To remind patients that even though the physicians and researchers may have the knowledge of the science, it is that patients themselves who are the experts in THEIR condition. Especially those that have a long-term chronic condition. The person with the scientific knowledge will never know the details of a condition as well as the patient, who lives with that condition and knows exactly how their body reacts to that condition.

It is important to remember that the FDA, EMA, and pharmaceutical companies aren’t god’s gift to humanity. They are businesses that make money from your suffering. You may not be able to rid yourself of an illness, but you certainly can rid yourself of those who make money off your suffering. It is you, the patient, who should have the right to your health. Not to be treated like a mere statistical number that fattens their paycheques.

When we don’t have answers, we blame science, or the lack of its understanding, along with the lack of resources. Maybe it’s the machine behind the science that is at fault. The mechanism which sets the boundaries and limitations to all. People are known to be terrible adaptors. Adjusting and evolving should be something we are used to; however, we despise change. We are comfortable with the known mechanism at play and choose to ignore its faults that we are very aware of. But in this situation, maybe that is exactly what we need and we are too stubborn to face reality. We may not like it or agree with it, but bringing about something new by forcing ourselves out of our comfort zones, may just be what we are currently facing. Ironically it is a reflection of evolution, in this case of our own creation. In order to progress and move forward, we need to change the systems that currently exist.

Evolution is the one constant that will never be run by humans. We are currently facing the results that were created by humans, and now it is time for us to evolve like all other species. Time to accept that adaptations are necessary, change the current systems accordingly, and adjust.


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Cyfrin November 20, 2020 - 6:57 pm

I just found your article! I would love to share my similar story on a blog that I’m starting but I’m worried about possible government back lash. I have HS and took the same two sets of phages a month ago. I just ordered the phages online. In August did the Viome Gut Intelligence Test,, which showed that I have a lot of very bad microbes. I’m not surprised given how sick I have been this last year. I used my microbes list to seek out solutions to balance my microbiome which is how I came across phage therapy. Thank you for your brave article.

Blog on Life November 21, 2020 - 9:05 am

Thank you for your sharing your experience! I will definitely check out the Viome’s Gut Intelligence Test.
I was running in circles regarding this particular article, however as unfortunate as the situation may be, everyone needs to start seeing things just as they are and not what they pretend it to be. If 2020 has showed us anything, that would just how backwards the medical community is, how unprepared nations are to a health crisis and how little resources have actually gone into wellbeing.
On the bright side, phages are being looked at more and more. For now there is a commercial interest in modified phages, however I think there will always be a market for natural phages. We may just need to wait till the materialistic and commercial trend will go old. And considering the huge changes happening in countries around the globe, that change may very well be here already.


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