Control of pathogenic bacteria by deliberate application of predatory phages has potential as a powerful therapy against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The key advantages of phage biocontrol over antibacterial chemotherapy are: (1) an ability to self-propagate inside host bacteria, (2) targeted predation of specific species or strains of bacteria, (3) adaptive molecular machinery to overcome resistance in target bacteria. However, realizing the potential of phage biocontrol is dependent on harnessing or adapting these responses, as many phage species switch between lytic infection cycles (resulting in lysis) and lysogenic infection cycles (resulting in genomic integration) that increase the likelihood of survival of the phage in response to external stress or host depletion. Similarly, host range will need to be optimized to make phage therapy medically viable whilst avoiding the potential for deleteriously disturbing the commensal microbiota. Phage training is a new approach to produce efficient phages by capitalizing on the evolved response of wild-type phages to bacterial resistance. Here we will review recent studies reporting successful trials of training different strains of phages to switch into lytic replication mode, overcome bacterial resistance, and increase their host range. This review will also highlight the current knowledge of phage training and future implications in phage applications and phage therapy and summarize the recent pipeline of the magistral preparation to produce a customized phage for clinical trials and medical applications.
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