On an orange background, also coloured orange, an electron micrograph shows bacteria being attacked by bacteriophages.
© HZI/Manfred Rohde

DZIF TransPhage-Net

The network is aimed at all scientists, physicians and veterinarians in Germany who are interested in phages. The joint platform is intended to support translational phage research and application.

The "DZIF Translational Phage Network" (in short: DZIF TransPhage-Net) has set itself the task of bringing together scientists, physicians and veterinarians interested in phages in Germany and improving the exchange with pharmaceutical producers and regulatory authorities.

International experts in the field of phage research are also welcome to join the network in order to contribute further impulses to the network. (Network language: English). The TransPhage-Net is intended to promote the best possible implementation of bacteriophage research, development and therapy in Germany.

Regular virtual and face-to-face meetings are intended to promote networking and the exchange of information on current research and treatment approaches. In addition, specific topics are worked on in small groups.

Events and latest news

During the first strategic DZIF meeting on "Bacteriophages in Science and Clinical Use", which took place in Frankfurt am Main on 11-12 July 2022, the foundation stone for the DZIF TransPhage-Net was laid. The first online meeting of the network took place on 13.12.2022.

The next meetings are scheduled for:

  • 18.01.2024 (17:00)
  • 06.03.2024 (16:00)
  • 08.07.2024 (16:00)
  • 05.09.2024 (16:00)

Scientific Steering Committee

Newly elected members (as of April 2023)

  • Wolfgang Beyer
  • Sebastian Leptihn
  • Carina Rohmer
  • Christian Willy

Members of the starting period (~ 1 year)

  • Joachim Bugert (representative of the consortium "Phage4_1Health"—https://phage4-1health.com/)
  • Annika Claßen
  • Li Deng
  • Christine Rohde
  • Maria Vehreschild

How do I become a member of the network?

We welcome all phage enthusiasts who would like to enrich the network. Please fill out our contact form. As soon as the Scientific Steering Committee has decided on your admission, you will be kept informed about future events and news.

To the contact form

DZIF TransPhage Net Governance and Policy

What are bacteriophages?

Bacteriophages (short: phages) are viruses that can specifically kill bacteria. They are a potentially valuable addition to antibiotic therapy in the targeted control of infectious diseases. In the countries of the former Soviet Union, phages have been used as standard therapy for over 90 years. In Europe, too, they are becoming increasingly important as an effective means of combating multi-resistant bacteria.

However, this is still an experimental form of therapy, as phages have not been sufficiently tested in clinical trials. Initial smaller studies could not show a clear advantage over standard therapy, which is associated in expert circles primarily with the study concepts and not with the lack of efficacy. There are numerous case reports on successful individualised phage therapies.

More details

Phages consist of genetic material and a protein coat—the capsid or phage head—and cannot reproduce without their bacterial host. The most therapeutically interesting phages and the most abundant in the biosphere belong to the class of Caudovirales. These are tailed phages with a mostly double-stranded nucleic acid as their genetic material. However, there is great diversity in the phage world: there are also phages with a filamentous or spherical structure, with single-stranded nucleic acid as well as those with RNA as nucleic acid.

In the first step, their multiplication requires the recognition of the respective bacterial cell surface receptor. Once phages have found a suitable host, they induce it in a sequence of enzymatic steps to multiply the phage genetic material. New virus particles are produced step by step in the bacterial cell and released after lysis of the bacterium. The entire multiplication process described is called a lytic cycle. Due to their specificity for certain bacteria, phages are a conceivable alternative or supplement to antibiotics, because they almost always recognise only strains of one type of bacteria. There are phages with a broad host spectrum, which are particularly attractive for therapeutic application, and those with very narrow coverage, which may only be used in rare cases. The specificity of phages, but also the fact that they have no toxic side effects, make them important research objects in biomedicine.

However, the more common phages in the biosphere and in our microbiome are not the obligate lytic Caudovirales described above, but the so-called temperate (or lysogenic) phages, which rest as prophages in the genomes of most bacterial cells and are induced (released from the genome) by stress factors or as yet unknown mechanisms. These can then behave like lytic phages or reintegrate into other bacterial genomes. In the process, they can carry unwanted genes from their previous host and are therefore not therapeutically applicable. Only genome sequence analyses reliably differentiate between lytic and temperate phages. The extensive filling of special phage databases is necessary to expand knowledge about many aspects of phages.