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Indias First Known Treated Patient Opens Doors: Lecture At PUs Microbiology Deptt

If your bacterial infection fails to respond to repeated antibiotic treatments, and the doctors are clueless about further course of treatment, it could be a fit case of antimicrobial resistance. Increasing incidence of this condition globally is vexing the medical fraternity, which feels that if new antibiotics or other alternative therapies are not urgently developed, the world could witness mass deaths by 2050, by when such cases are expected to rise tenfold.

Phage therapy, actively practised as a first line of treatment for bacterial infections among humans in some east European countries like Georgia and Poland for decades, along with some other alternative treatments being actively pursued by researchers in laboratories across the world, hold out much promise of arresting this potentially alarming situation.

Indias First Known Treated Patient Opens Doors: Lecture At PUs Microbiology Deptt, Lifeinchd

Photos By : Life In  Chandigarh

Phages, natural predators of bacteria, and available in abundance in our environment, are isolated through various processes and those best suited to a specific bacterial infection are used for treatment of such conditions. Phages are known to be safe for use on humans and do not leave any side effects.

Pranav Johri, the first known drug resistant Indian patient to have been successfully treated with bacteriophage therapy at the Eliava Phage Therapy Centre in Tbilisi, Georgia, along with his wife Apurva, have now taken upon themselves to create awareness about this therapy and enable access to it for other drug resistant patients who find themselves helpless and in despair.

The duo have co-founded Vitalis Phage Therapy, which, in partnership with the Tbilisi-based center, is now providing distance treatment to Indian patients within the country, drastically cutting down on costs involved in travelling to Georgia for two-three rounds of tests and treatment, each lasting nearly three months.

Indias First Known Treated Patient Opens Doors: Lecture At PUs Microbiology Deptt, Lifeinchd

The Johris, on the invitation of the Department of Microbiology, Panjab University, presented a lecture “From Patient to Advocate: Bringing Phage Therapy To India” in the seminar hall of the department on Friday for the benefit of faculty members, researchers, professionals and students. They were grilled on various aspects of phage therapy by some of the brightest brains from among the 50-odd participants, and the couple appeared to have all the right answers to the barrage of questions thrown at them.

They also presented four case studies to prove the efficacy of the phage therapy with little or no trace left of the pathogens after the treatment, and with no side effects whatsoever.

Pranav later told that ever since Vitalis came into being in 2018, over 350 people have contacted them with their medical issues and more than 50 of them have been enabled access to treatment from the Georgian institute through them. “Initially people seeking the treatment were required to travel all the way to Eliava center in Georgia for treatment, however after a lot of cases came their way wherein people could not undertake the travel for various reasons, the distance treatment program was started for India, which reduced costs by nearly 70%.

“Now people take phage therapy as personal medicine (allowed in India this way) under the guidelines of Eliava doctors, but administered by their own treating doctors in India. Phage medicines are sent directly by Eliava to patients,” he informed.

Indias First Known Treated Patient Opens Doors: Lecture At PUs Microbiology Deptt, Lifeinchd

In another initiative, Vitalis is enabling availability of sensitivity testing with standard bacteriophage preparations of the Eliava center in India itself in collaboration with a New Delhi based diagnostic lab (Dr Dang’s, Delhi), whose personnel are being sent to Eliava for requisite training. This will bring down the time taken for test reports from three weeks to 3-4 days.

Pranav shared that when he went to Eliava for nine months of treatment spread over three rounds, his costs came to about 5000 Euros per round of three months treatment, including cost of travel and stay in hotel/apartment, etc, but with the distance treatment program this cost had come down to as low as 1900 Euros per round (about Rs 1.5-1.6 lakh). The treatment may require one, two or three rounds depending on individual treatment, he added.

“It is our constant endeavour to bring the cost of treatment down further to make the treatment accessible to more and more people,” Apurva stressed.

Pranav’s Own Story

* He experienced 175 days of persistent fever (100-101 degrees Fahrenheit) with pain in lower back, flanks and groin
* 19 doctor visits, initially diagnosed as chronic bronchitis
* Administered five courses of different antibiotics spread over two months
* No improvement, only side effects like pain and fatigue, infection not responding to antibiotics
* Doctor did not know how to proceed with further treatment
* Advised him to live his life my managing symptoms
* At 33 years of age the situation of hopelessness and despair in life was unacceptable to him
* For next two months devoted his entire time to researching on his medical condition, wherein bacterial infection was not responding to antibiotics
* Reached out to some US and French researchers working in this field. A few responded.
* Confidence built up in him of finding a potential alternative source of treatment
* During further research came across phage treatment, none from India was known to have taken it, later satisfied himself regarding the long standing phage treatment being practised at two centres – Eliava Phage Treatment Center, Tbilisi, Gerogia & Phage Therapy Unit in Wroclaw, Poland. Chose Eliava.
* Nov 2016 – comprehensive testing found four bacteria – Staphylococcus Aureus, Staphylococcus Haemolyticus, Enterococcus Faecalis and Steptococcus Mitus – along with high WBC (white blood cell) count. All four bacteria were resistant to the five courses of antibiotics taken during previous treatment
* 1st round of treatment started with phage preparation sensitive to these bacteria
* March 2017 – two of the four bacteria cleared. Ultrasound showed prostate inflammation reduced by 25% and WBC count significantly better
* Nov 2017 – After 2nd round of treatment, three of the four bacteria cleared and WBC count found within normal range
* 3rd round of treatment done with custom phage preparation. Despite prolonged usage of phage, no side effects seen. Two years after treatment, body is symptom free  by APR Media House is an enjoyable digital reading startup, which keeps you abreast of the latest meaningful happenings of interest to large sections of folks in Chandigarh tricity, and expats from the region. It has been promoted by a public spirited senior journalist and media consultant with a view to encourage good quality and healthy journalism, a dire need of the times.

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