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Engineered Bacteriophage with Dual Tail Fibers that Targets Non-Native Pathogenic Host

Researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) have engineered a single recombinant phage with dual tail fibers that can target and kill bacteria of different genera. The diversity in phage tail fiber components successfully circumvents previously known limitations on phage host selectivity.
NIH Reference Number
Product Type
  • Bacteria, Infection, Bacteriophage, Phage, Antibiotics, Drug resistance, K. pneumonia, E. coli, Adhya
Collaboration Opportunity
This invention is available for licensing and co-development.
Description of Technology

Bacteriophage (“Phage”) is a virus that can infect and kill bacteria. Because of this ability, phage is now being considered as an alternative to antibiotics that fail to treat infections caused by multi-drug resistant pathogens. Compared to antibiotics, however, bacteriophages are often limited in their range of host. Engineered recombinant bacteriophages have a wider spectrum of host, but often lose sensitivity to their parental host. These limitations on phage host selectivity are primarily due to lack of
diversity in the phage tail-fiber components.

Researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) (Laboratory of Molecular Biology)  have engineered a single recombinant phage with dual tail fibers that can target and kill bacteria of different genera. Specifically, the inventors isolated a recombinant T7 phage that encodes two tail genes, one of wild type T7 tail fiber and another of chimeric origin that can recognize a second type of bacteria. Because the phage have two distinct tail regions, they can potentially overcome the clinical use limitations of other current engineered phage.

Potential Commercial Applications
  • Development of safe phage to combat emerging drug-resistant bacteria 
  • Development of polyvalent phages that are more effective in eradication of biofilms, by incorporating biofilm-dispersing enzymes as a part of the phage tail fibers
Competitive Advantages
  • Effective against a wider range of hosts, due to diversity of tail components
  • Drug-resistant bacteria remain susceptible to elimination by these phage

Sankar Adhya Ph.D. (NCI), Manoj Rajaure Ph.D. (NCI)

Development Stage
Patent Status
  • U.S. Provisional: U.S. Provisional Patent Application Number 62/512,608 , Filed 15 May 2017
Therapeutic Area
Monday, March 19, 2018