Sebastian Leptihn’s Research Team Published Back to Back Review Articles in Frontiers in Microbiology and Frontiers in Medicine


Continuing the success of fruitful collaborations between the ZJE Institute and the University  of Edinburgh, two articles were published in a joint effort of the Leptihn group, together with Prof. Susan Welburn and Dr. Xiaoting Hua from the Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital, in Hangzhou. One article was published in the journal Frontiers in Medicine entitled“ Secondary Bacterial Infections in Patients with Viral Pneumonia”. In a “back-to-back publication” the group published a second review article with the title “Secondary Bacterial Infections during Pulmonary Viral Disease: Phage Therapeutics as Alternatives to Antibiotics?” in the prestigious journal Frontiers in Microbiology.


Picture: Comparison of scientific, clinical, and pharmaceutical characteristics of chemical antibiotics, endolysins, and bacteriophages in the treatment of bacterial infections (published in Frontiers in Microbiology).

Article summaries:

Both articles describe the complex disease progressions of viral pneumonias, which are often complicated by secondary bacterial infections. In the review published in Frontiers in Medicine, the frequency, treatment and impact of secondary bacterial infections during viral pneumonia are discussed, comparing influenza, SARS, MERS and SARS-CoV-2 related infections. Case studies were analysed to interpret the severity of disease progression due to secondary bacterial infections during the global pandemic and antibiotic treatment regimes. The authors reported that up to 15% of the COVID-19 mortality may be caused by secondary bacterial infections, although regional differences do exists.

In the publication in Frontiers in Microbiology the authors highlight the use of antibiotic therapy to prevent or cure secondary bacterial infections or co-infections that are occur during viral pulmonary diseases. The authors discuss the potential of using phage therapy or phage-derived compounds as alternatives to antibiotics, in particular for strains that are antibiotic resistant.

The Leptihn’s research group is working on bacteriophage biology and phage therapy. Prof. Sebastian Leptihn’s Research Group ( includes Dr. Belinda Loh (Post-doc) and Dr. Prasanth Manohar (Post-doc), the two lead-authors on the articles.