Bringing together bacteriophage bioscience and business

Attendees of the Phage Innovation event sat down to watch talks.

An innovation showcase co-sponsored by the UK Food Safety Research Network brought together academia, industry and clinicians to share knowledge in bacteriophage research.

We’re a year into our programming at the UK Food Safety Research Network and one of the first activities we did was to figure out what problems are worth solving by us. One of the biggest signals we got from food businesses was interest in bacteriophages, says Co-Director of the UK Food Safety Research Network Matt Gilmour.

The UK Phage Innovation Showcase in Leicester on May 16 2023 marked the official launch of the University of Leicester’s Centre for Phage Research, who also co-funded the event along with Innovate UK’s Phage Innovation Network.

The event addressed a pressing interest within the food industry.

The day included talks and panel discussions on how bacteriophages can be used to improve food safety including through animal and plant health. A total of 232 people across sectors attended the event, both in person and online.

We can see that there’s a universal agreement on the efficacy of phages, whether it’s small -scale or on a larger scale. Phages can remove pathogens when used appropriately, says Professor Martha Clokie.

Along with discussing the opportunities bacteriophages have in improving food safety, the day also involved identifying and exploring the challenges of using the technology.
Martha explains, We discussed the need for post-use surveillance in the use of bacteriophages. We haven’t used phages in a widespread way, and we wouldn’t want to misuse them in the way antibiotics have been misused.

There’s been lots of fruitful discussions, we talked lots of how phages are used, how they could be used and how we could use them better.