Alexander Belcredi: How a long-forgotten virus could help us solve the antibiotics crisis
Alexander Belcredi studies how viruses can help in the fight against superbugs. Full bio
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they can cure disease.
about phages was back in 2013.
he was treating.
required multiple surgeries,
bacterial infection in her leg.
also did not respond
option left is to amputate the leg
from spreading further.
for a different kind of solution,
last-resort treatment using phages.
the chronic infection had healed up,
by the medical potential of phages.
to build a company in this space.
by an electron microscope.
is in reality extremely tiny.
with the head, the long body
that you have more than 10 billion phages
at infecting bacteria.
so much of our body,
hunting ground for phages.
are extremely selective hunters.
a single bacterial species.
the phage that you see
called Staphylococcus aureus,
in its drug-resistant form.
on a bacterial cell.
to the bacterial cell wall
through the long body.
reprograms the bacteria
becomes a phage factory.
within the bacteria cell,
to release a protein
the phages move out
for a new bacteria to infect.
sounded like a scary virus again.
and then kill them --
from a medical point of view.
I really had no clue about phages.
they are part of a natural principle.
to the earliest days of evolution.
keeping each other in check.
and yang, of the hunter and the prey,
abundant organism on our planet.
talking about their medical potential,
about phages and their role on earth:
that works so well in nature,
to combat bacterial infections?
has developed this kind of a drug yet,
to the Western regulatory standards
for so much of the world.
we need to move back in time.
credited with discovering phages.
back in 1917, he had no clue
called bacillary dysentery,
that causes severe diarrhea,
killing a lot of people,
infections had been invented.
who had survived this illness.
weird was going on.
was killing the bacteria
he did an ingenious experiment.
very small could have remained,
to freshly cultivated bacteria.
that within a number of hours,
again filtering, taking a tiny drop,
of fresh bacteria.
he made two conclusions.
yes, something was killing the bacteria,
biologic in nature,
to have a huge impact.
an "invisible microbe"
means "bacteria eater."
of the most fundamental discoveries
to our understanding of how phages work --
but also in other fields.
in chemistry was announced
and develop drugs based on that.
the medical potential of phages.
that reliably was killing bacteria.
such as Abbott, Squibb or Lilly,
with an invisible microbe,
to a reliable drug.
that invisible virus
emerged in the 1940s,
to the development
very differently than phages.
the growth of the bacteria,
which kind of bacteria are present.
a whole bunch of bacteria out there.
which work extremely narrowly
like a dream come true.
with a suspected bacterial infection,
anything else about the bacteria
more and more antibiotics,
therapy for bacterial infections.
tremendously to our life expectancy.
complex medical interventions
dying the very next day
contract during the operation.
especially in Western medicine.
I was growing up, the notion was:
we have antibiotics.
we know that this is wrong.
will have heard about superbugs.
that have become resistant
that we have developed
as we thought we were.
antibiotics everywhere --
at home, for simple colds;
that were all around them,
that were best able to adapt.
by the UK government,
from multidrug-resistant infections.
from cancer per year today,
that this is a scary number.
phages have stuck around.
impressed by multidrug resistance.
and hunting bacteria all around us.
which today is really a good thing.
a bacterial pathogen
in many settings.
avoid some of the side effects
with broad-spectrum antibiotics.
they are no longer an invisible microbe.
around the globe.
including our own company,
to treat bacterial infections.
are getting underway in Europe and the US.
that we're standing on the verge
the phage is something like this.
that we have been waiting for
one day save your life.
ABOUT THE SPEAKERAlexander Belcredi - Biotech entrepreneur
Alexander Belcredi studies how viruses can help in the fight against superbugs.
Why you should listen
Alexander Belcredi has been working in the pharmaceutical space for over a decade. He spent nine years at BCG where he was part of the global health care team, focusing on pharma and medtech. While at BCG, Belcredi became acutely aware of the urgent need to develop alternatives to antibiotics and was fascinated by the role that phage therapy can play. In 2017, he co-founded PhagoMed Biopharma GmbH, a biotech company developing phage-based pharmaceuticals to treat bacterial infections, where he is now the CEO. Belcredi holds an MA in Modern History and Economics from the University of St. Andrews as well as an MBA from INSEAD.
Alexander Belcredi | Speaker | TED.com