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Engineering bacteriophage encapsulation processes to improve stability and controlled release using pH responsive formulations

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posted on 26.10.2018 by Gurinder K. Vinner
Enteric pathogens form a large part of infectious diseases which contribute to a bulk of the healthcare costs. Enteric infections are usually contracted via the faecal-oral route or through contact with contaminated surfaces. Treatment by antibiotics is becoming increasingly ineffective due to the growing number of antibiotic resistant strains. Anti-microbial resistance poses a serious threat to the future of healthcare worldwide and necessitates the search for alternate forms of therapy. Bacteriophages (phages), are viruses which specifically infect and lyse bacteria. To introduce phages as a viable form of therapy, route of administration needs to be considered carefully. Model phages with broad host ranges are ideal for therapy however oral delivery to the lower gastro-intestinal (GI) poses several challenges. The acidic stomach environment can be detrimental to phages, rendering them inactive during passage. To overcome this challenge and improve the stability of phage during encapsulation and storage, this PhD research has been conducted. pH responsive polymers, Eudragit and alginate were used to develop composite microparticles which protected phage from acidic pH (pH 1-3). A novel method of acidifying oil was developed for crosslinking droplets in vitro to avoid the use of harsh solvent systems that can cause phage inactivation. Platform microfluidic technology was employed for phage encapsulation for the first time. Monodispersed droplets and particles were produced, offering fine-tuning of droplet diameter to tailor the release and pH protection of encapsulated phage. Process scale-up was attempted using membrane emulsification (ME) to produce larger volumes of encapsulated phage. In vitro and in-situ models investigated the efficacy of encapsulated phage-bacterial killing. Industrial scale method of spray drying, and electrospinning were also used to demonstrate the versatility of the formulation. Tableting dry powder phage, showed an effective method for producing solid dosage forms for therapy. Additionally, electrospun phage fibres also showed the potential use of pH responsive formulations in addressing wound infections. Improvement in encapsulated phage storage stability was observed with the addition of trehalose in the formulation. This research underpins the need for testing phage encapsulation for site-specific delivery and offers insight into the potential use of commercially available technologies.



  • Aeronautical, Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering


  • Chemical Engineering


© Gurinder Kaur Vinner

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.