Phage or Fail with Antibiotics

$2,985 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 37 people in 3 months

I am going to get Phage Therapy to fight an antibiotic-resistant lung infection. This fundraising campaign is to help pay for the publicity of phage therapy and possibly filming of my experience. I will be self funded for my airfares and medical costs.

Antibiotics are failing people. People with Cystic Fibrosis (PWCF) like me, are the most common victims of Antibiotic Resistant infections, primarily in their lungs. Doctors will only treat with Antibiotics despite knowing it barely works, Bacteriophages, or Phage Therapy , is one serious and clinically recognised alternative to antibiotics. Because phages are naturally occurring (in sewages and swamps,...)  and are not man-made or synthesised, there are virtually no financial incentives for the pharmaceutical industry. Hence  little research or money for costly clinical studies. BUT!! There are many cases where phages have cured life threatening infections. Why are we not using Phage Therapy more? Because of the nature of it there are few financial gains for pharmaceutical companies to be made from naturally occurring phages, and it is up to people like me to allow the world to see for themselves and to explain the what, why and hows of Phage Therapies.

Through my experience I can show the world, promote and explain about Phage Therapy  and why it is so incredibly important. Phage therapy is generally not covered by insurance or public health funds yet. A phage lab will one day be part of all hospital pathology labs, and I expect this to happen within the next decade because the cost is minimal compared to the benefits and the lives it can save.  For me to get treated I will take my Oxygen Concentrator and sick lungs to Yale University to be treated by Dr Benjamin Chan. Why Dr Chan? Dr Chan is a progressive researcher at Yale with passion and talent who has treated PWCF before and is keen to see Phage Therapy gain acceptance in our medical world.

This fundraiser is to get starter funding to film and  to promote Phage Therapy, focussing on my treatment. The resulting documentary will be used to educate people and stimulate the acceptance and adoption of phage therapy. Rummin Productions , keen to help make this documentary,  has made an incredible documentary of a ride I did in 2017 with an all disabled team cycling across Australia's remote desert; http://rummin.com/lowest-highest/. To see the entire documentary click <here >.
Or, a decade ago I rode across Europe for Cystic Fibrosis. Click here for that DVD from Amazon or read the book (available CHEAP for Kindle ). 

Having CF, like any chronic condition is expensive. There are many meds not covered by health insurance, eating healthy can also be very expensive, and simple things like washing a car, cleaning or for some just walking and talking at the same time, or showering, is a big chore that makes you out of breath and cough. Travelling with a nebuliser, an oxygen concentrator, boxes full of medication excess luggage and too much carry on, doctor certificates to get travel insurance, having to avoid crowded places, not allowed to stay in youth hostels or budget accommodation out of fear from unhygienic conditions that will make us sicker, living, let alone travelling with CF is not easy.


By donating $5 you are not only adding to the campaign, but you also add to the number of people interested in what we're doing., joining the Phage Club! This is very important as one person donating $20k is all very nice, but it does not show there is global interest. We need numbers so we can all get Phage Therapy locally when we need it, and we all will one day. Just like you occasionally you need antibiotics now, one dy it won't work for us and we need Phage Therapy! So even if you can only spare $5 we would appreciate it because it shows you are interested in the outcome and your $5 will help decide networks and TV whether a documentary is going to be of interest. And we do need every dollar we can get of course to get me over there.

Read all about it:

PHAGE OR FAIL; Where antibiotics fail, phage continues.

According to current research, Antibiotic Resistance will cause an estimated 10 million deaths per year by 2050 if we don't develop an alternative. For this reason strategies other than traditional antibiotics must be developed. One available option is the use of bacteriophages (phages). Phages are nature’s most abundant bacterial predators. They can be used alone or in combination with antibiotics against difficult-to-treat infections.


Since the beginning of time, humans have been subject to infections. Infections were synonymous with death. Apart from a healthy diet and lifestyle, and a strong immune system, there was little that could be done to help people fight infections, whether a result from a fall out of a tree, a bite, or an infection you got swimming in a swamp.

In 1896, Ernest Hanbury Hankin, a British bacteriologist in India, demonstrated that the waters from the Indian rivers Ganga and Yamuna contained an agent that destroyed cholera-inducing bacteria. Soon after another scientist, Félix d’Herelle studied patients recovering from dysentery. He filtered stools and incubated the filtrate which he then found stopped dysentery. He described his discovery as a microbe that was a “veritable” microbe of immunity, this made him the first scientist to isolate a bacteriophage that could treat disease.

By the 1920s phage therapy was taking off in the Soviet Union and is still currently used in some ex-Soviet. Only now that we are reaching the end of the golden era of antibiotics, phage therapy is being revisited as a potential alternative to antibiotics in Western countries. Research is now done to discover how to select the most adequate phage(s) against specific infections.


In the 1930s Western Medicine strayed from phage research towards antibiotic development when the Bayer Laboratories developed an antibacterial drug called Prontosil. The Western World found that treating bacterial infections with an antibiotics was easier than finding a phage for each specific infection.

Now after a century of successful antibiotic treatment, we are finding that there are more bacteria with resistance to multiple antibiotics. These superbugs include Golden Staph and MRSA and we have no reliable cures for these infections.



As a Cystic Fibrosis patient, I have a lung infection which is very common for people with CF, Pseudomonas Aeruginosa. This is almost impossible to eradicate using antibiotic treatments. Yet when my lungs get bad the doctors still recommend another 2 weeks of hospitalisation for tough IV antibiotic treatment which they know will not fix the problem, merely temporarily reduce the bacterial load in my lungs. Such 'tune-ups' are very expensive and interruptive, and detrimental to the rest of my body, especially my gut flora. The actual effect to the average CF patient is that they can breathe better for a week or two, sometimes a bit longer, but still have to be on continuous oral and inhalable antibiotics at all times.

Knowing antibiotics are just not working anymore why is Western medicine not paying more attention to Phage Therapy?

The reasons I see are that in order for research and acceptance we need expensive trials which are usually funded by drug companies. Unfortunately, by the nature of phage therapy, there is no phage drug that can be patented and brought to market at high profits to recoup the cost of clinical trials and research. This is where I can make a difference, by introducing to the world, especially people with Cystic Fibrosis, how phage therapy offers an alternative to antibiotics.


Phage therapy most certainly is not the silver bullet. Typically people who are infected by superbugs can be reinfected with other ones, and bacteria will also develop resistance to phages.  Like antibiotics, phage therapy may possibly cause undesirable side effects in some people with allergies, or may not work adequately for all bugs, but consider antibiotic treatment for me, a Person with Cystic Fibrosis. I am treated with antibiotics continuously with regular intensive 2 week IV administrations on a regular basis, despite the fact that antibiotics have severe side-effects and are hardly effective against my infections. It is time we try something else. If phage therapy can eliminate one bug at a time from me then it will be worth the trip! I will still have Cystic Fibrosis and I will still have terrible lung infections, but if we can eliminate the worst bacteria then a regular antibiotic 'tune-up' will become effective for me again, until I contract another virulent infection. People with CF can go years without catching infections, but then empty the compost or do some gardening, enter a crowded space with one infected person, and voila, we are infected again. This is why I believe we need a phage lab attached to every major hospital or pathology lab.


When broad-spectrum antibiotics were invented it was considered a bonus that it could eliminate a large variety of organisms. Now we realise that antibiotics are killing off the good bacteria too. A tenth of your body weight is bacteria, most of them necessary to keep you alive, hence aggressive and long term antibiotic treatment causes harm. Phage therapy is far from broad-spectrum, effective only to a few strains of a particular species of bacteria. In practical terms, this means it is safer to use with fewer side-effects, but requires careful testing to ensure that a particular phage will be effective against the targeted infection.

To use Cystic Fibrosis as an example, a 2-week admission for antibiotic treatment is approximately $15,000 for the bed. Add to that the cost of doctors, procedures, tests and medicine, then repeat 2-3 times per year...


In the next decade I am confident we will see the following scenario:

If you have Antibiotic Treatment and the infection is not eliminated your bacteria is then isolated and sent to a phage lab. There they consult a phage library, a collection of naturally occurring, collected phages, and match one to your specific bacteria. A lab worker may cultivate some bacteriophages to get a more specific species. A concoction of phages will be prepared for the individual patient, for the one current infection needing treatment.  The phage may be given to the patient with a course of oral antibiotics on top for good measure.

The phages are naturally occurring and are not made by a lab, they are not inherently expensive, they just require individually locating and matching. What is needed is an extensive phage library and lab workers experienced in phage therapy. A comprehensive phage library could exist in each state even a national one, with a phage lab attached to each hospital or pathology lab.


Dr Benjamin is a 'phagenomical' Associate Research Scientist in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University in the Laboratory of Professor Paul Turner. His research involves the development and creation of the treatment of bacterial infections unresponsive to traditional antibiotic therapy. He has already successfully treated people with Cystic Fibrosis, eliminating pseudomonas aeruginosa infections.

Benjamin has gracefully accepted to treat me with his experimental phage therapy so that we can bring some worldwide publicity to Phage Therapy and how it can be used.



Crowdfunding has two objectives for me:

I need help financing a trip from Tasmania, Australia to Yale University in the USA.

I feel it is necessary to educate the world about the existence of phage therapy, which requires a documentary and press coverage.

Having a crowdfunding campaign allows this information to travel far and wide through social media and assists in the promotion of Phage Therapy. It also allows us to find people interested to help promote and make the documentary. Rummin Production is currently interested in making the documentary as they have worked with me before, see the promo for the Lowest to Highest documentary about five friends (including me!) with disabilities completing a world first 6-week bicycle ride from Australia's lowest, Lake Eyre,  to Australia's highest, Mount Kosciuszko. You can watch this wonderful doco here: www.rummin.com/lowest-highest/ 

And PS My lungs are slowly failing me and not responding to Antibiotics. My lung function is now consistently below 40% of the expected FEV1 for my age and height. I want to do more adventures to raise awareness for Cystic Fibrosis, organ donation and general inspiration.  So here is an opportunity for me to contribute to medical science! Please donate so I can spread my story far and wide! Again, I will be fully self funded for the trip, money collected here is for publication and media, towards a documentary/filming, not for my travel costs!!! IF you like to help me with travel/treatment cost, frequent flyer miles or acoommodation please email me at walter1@coughing4cf.com !!


Here I am with the CF team before I took off on a cycle trip many years ago...


Here is Benjamin Chan.

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GREAT INTRO VIDEO in case you do not know about Bacteriophages. Watch this little 6-minute presentation, and pay extra attention at the 5-minute mark: https://youtu.be/YI3tsmFsrOg


We are now at the stage where my GP and my Tasmanian Adult CF Clinic, Dr. Benjamin Chan (the researcher intending to treat me) and the director of the Yale University Adult Cystic Fibrosis Program are all getting together to formulate a plan.

I have also been talking to a Melbourne Film Producer who is keen to work out the logistics to make a documentary about the experience, and how to raise enough funds to make it possible.

This filmmaker has also worked with Coen Ashton, a young man with Cystic Fibrosis who was a brilliant motivator and strong advocate for Organ Donations, a recipient of transplanted lungs himself but unfortunately succumbed to kidney failure as a result of the strong pharmaceuticals he received during his short life.

And as for my health, I just spend 10 days in the Royal Hobart Hospital getting strong IV Antibiotic treatment for my current lung infection which rendered my lung function to be 31% of expected (FEV1) for my age. A very worrying figure. It has since recovered to 39% and I am now on home IVs in Devonport. All these antibiotics take a toll on my organs, unlike Phage Therapy which only targets one bacteria.

I expect to go to Yale in June... at this stage.



Clinical Trials

To date I have been led to believe that because there is little money to be made by pharmaceutical companies there have been no clinical trials organised for phage therapy. Who would pay for clinical trials of acupuncture, for instance. A needle maker who sells $300 acupuncture needle kits? There just isn't the money to justify the expense of a clinical trial involving dozens of scientists and lab workers, patients,... And phages are also quite cheap.

BUT, it appears I was wrong! Was reading Time Magazine; http://time.com/5068513/superbugs-are-nearly-impossible-to-fight/ ;

In 2018, two small biotech companies in the U.S.–AmpliPhi Biosciences and Adaptive Phage Therapeutics (APT)–will launch clinical trials that will attempt to answer some of the key questions about phage.

This to me indicates that there is movement in the works!

In fact after checking up on AmpliPhi (pronounce Amplifie!) I found that a Phase I-II clinical trial European Research & Development (R&D) Project funded by the European Commission had already been completed; Project PHAGOBURN. It involved E-Coli and Pseudomonas Aeruginosa burn wound infections. In its Executive Summary it said:

In the context of a worldwide growing antibiotic resistance threat, notably the emergence of multi-drug resistant bacterial strains, PhagoBurn was launched to evaluate the clinical potential of bacteriophages (phages) as a novel and innovative strategy to fight this critical issue. Launched in 2013 and completed in 2017, PhagoBurn was the world first prospective multicentric, randomised, single blind and controlled clinical trial of phage therapy ever performed according to both Good Manufacturing (GMP) and Good Clinical Practices (GCP).

And the FDA in the USA has now also approved two other Clinical Trials which target Pseudomonas lung infections: https://cysticfibrosisnewstoday.com/2018/09/20/fda-oks-2-trials-investigational-ab-pa01-targeting-pseudomonas-aeruginosa/:

A Phase 1/2 randomized, controlled clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of AB-PA01, administered intravenously in approximately 100 patients with hospital-acquired and ventilator-associated pneumonia (HAP/VAP) due to Pseudomonas aeruginosa and a similar one with approximately 100 patients with Pseudomonas Aeruginosa bacteremia.

"Pseudomonas aeruginosa is not only a challenging infection to treat, but one that represents a serious threat to the cystic fibrosis community as well as to lung transplant patients,”


The easiest way to get bacteriophage treatment to infections is where the infections are easily accessible, ie. on the skin or in the lungs. Infections found in burn victims are much more numerous than lung infections and burn infections tend to be more homogenous infections whereas lungs tend to have multiple infections. This is why burn-related skin infections are most ideal for clinical trials.

Phage Therapy Centre in San Diego, USA.

Despite many countries not ready for human phage applications, with human trials supposedly 20 years away, in the USA patients now seeking phage therapy can submit an Emergency Investigational New Drug (eIND) application with the FDA. This process allows for use of 'as yet unapproved treatments' on a case-by-case basis. On this basis, IPATH Phage Centre was created in San Diego: Center for Innovative Phage Applications and Therapeutics.) to treat patients with multidrug-resistant infections.

The aim of IPATH will be to make phage therapy more widely available as a clinical option for patients with life-threatening infections that aren't responding to antibiotics. Currently, IPATH is prioritizing serious multi-drug resistant bacterial infections that are associated with the following conditions: cystic fibrosis, complicated urinary tract infections, organ transplantation and implantable hardware (infected joints, pacemakers,...).

So this concludes this update on my Phage Therapy mission!

Thank you again for your donation, and please spread the fundraiser so we can make a small documentary out of my experience going to Yale University for treatment of my Pseudomonas Aeruginosa lung infection, a very common infection for people living with Cystic Fibrosis and follow me on https://www.facebook.com/Coughing4Cf
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Urinology cures Cancer

Do a quick Google Search again to verify the above title. Tell me what websites you see. Recognise them? Probably not. Is this because no pharmaceutical company is willing to spend several million dollars into doing the clinical trials? Same can be said about Phage Therapy, but there is as much money for Pharmaceutical organisations as there is in Phage Therapy as there is in urinolgy or cannabis for that matter. But if you Google Bacteriophage with your favourite infection you will get credible websites covering its virtues.

In fact, just driving in my car someone alerted me to a radio program on phages, and I tuned in to listen: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3cswvsm

Like most press coverages it was overall super positive and makes you scratch our head why we can't find a way to use phages in fighting infections that antibiotics have trouble with.

In the next week or so I am due to go into hospital to have a 'tune-up', tens of thousands of dollars will be thrown towards me to pump me full of antibiotics and get my lungs cleared a little, but only temporarily. In my analogy of rabbits in my carrot field, this is now akin to paying the army to come in with a battalion to shoot as many as they can. We all know the rabbits will be back within weeks of the battalion leaving. Rediscovering the calicivirus (that virtually stopped the rabbit plague and is still killing domestic rabbits today) is probably a better option.

At a nearby Film Festival in the mountains (Cradle Mountain Film Festival), where I was scouting for documentary makers willing to cover my experience with Phages at Yale University, I was at altitude, about 800m perhaps. I could hardly function. Parked next to the disabled spot at cradle Hotel I was exhausted by the time I got to the cafe inside. Trying to do my nebs and cough up a cup of phlegm too two hours that night as each and every step was torturous. It was too cold for my oxygen concentrator to work properly. I need to kill this pseudomonas infection in my lungs. And I am not the only one suffering. And people with Cystic Fibrosis are also not the only people suffering from such infections.

So anyway, the journalist on the radio explained how she went to the pharmacist and bought phage medicine over the counter. It was designed to kill the 3 most common bacteria circulating in the country that made people sick. Bacteria jump from host to host as you know, so it is quite normal for an infection in a group of people to be exactly the same. Hence an annual update of the phage medicine ensures it stays effective to the particular genotype of the bacteria. That is right, the phage will only kill the exact one genotype of the targeted bacteria. This means not one phage to kill just one bacteria, it has to be really specific. Hence phage therapy often falls under individualised medicine, where a phage is found for each individual case.

How about the annual flu injection. Every year there is a new cocktail of antivenin to combat the worst flues expected to dominate the country. Are millions of dollars and decades of clinical trials required to get them through the medical authorities to be allowed for human use? How do they get away with it? Why can't we do it with phages? Anyone who wants to get a flu shot can buy one, those who are at highest risk are given them for free. Why? Because it is proven to work, keep flu numbers down and prevent epidemics. It is in the government's interest to keep us out of hospital and dying. When I walk in the street, go into a pharmacist or doctor surgery, a hospital, or a plane, I am afraid someone with a nasty bacteria infects me. They wouldn't infect healthy people, but my CF lungs most certainly will, and can cause me to be counting daisies within weeks. And yes, many with Cystic Fibrosis wear masks and keep distance, and all of us avoid crowds. I live in Tasmania where crowds are rare and fresh air is prevalent.

Take a hospital infection where a superbug has gone out of control infecting dozens and killing several patients, it is often just the one bacteria to blame. A bacteriophage can be isolated and given to all patients which will in most cases kill the infection without side effects. Of course, this presumption is just merely a presumption, but that is theoretically how bacteriophages work, they are highly targeted enemies of our enemies, they are our friends!

And is it just one bacteriophage that exists to kill that one particular infection? No, shock horror, it is more like real life biology where say us humans are able to get thousands of viruses that could harm or kill us without affecting our goldfish or hamster, as can rabbits get thousands of viruses without harming their fleas and other parasites, or us humans trying to grow carrots in the same fields these rabbits are dying of the various viruses they could potentially catch. Some viruses are more virulent than others. This means the microbiologists need to isolate a cocktail of effective phages for the bacteria they are targeting. Its not rocket science, but will take a lot of biochemists and lab workers to be employed. The alternative our capitalist society seems to prefer is to find a pharmaceutical solution that spends the same or more on a handful of CEOs and investors instead of creating employment for scientists! Win-win for Phages again.

In the Eliava Institue in Georgia, former Russia, 800 scientists used to work there to isolate and distribute phages for all of the USSR, today still 80 or so remain, to help treat people from their country and desperate visitors who come from overseas to seek treatment after the western system has failed for years.

Thank you for reading this far and if you enjoy these regular updates and are interested to see how I go in my quest for killing my Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection with Phage Therapy please share this fundraiser with other people interested in fighting antibiotic resistance in our world! Donations are not for my travel or treatment, they are intended to cover film and media costs etc to let the world know about Bacteriophages.


Walter van Praag
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An update on what phages are. People still think I am after treatment just for myself, but really, I want treatment for the WORLD! I want to spread knowledge about Phage Therapy. I aim to document my experience for people to see: Read my latest explanation of what phage therapy is, and please share with friends, family and acquaintances who are battling infections:


To help me in my noble quest () please donate here; www.facebook.com/donate/390637581737170/

or here;
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Just an update. Dr Benjamin Chan from Yale now has my medical info from my various doctors and a couple of hospital discharge summaries. I hope they can make progress in getting FDA approval and schedule me in!

In the meantime I came across an Australian researcher, Monash biologist Dr Jeremy J. Barr, who was awarded a Ramaciotti Award grant for Biomedical Research worth $137,534. His research is in bacteriophage treatment to combat antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.


In the meantime please pass my crowdfunder to your friends, or visit www.coughing4cf.com for more info!

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