This Viral Therapy Could Help Us Survive the Superbug Era

WIRED | 2/26/2019 | Megan Molteni
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In November 2015, infectious disease epidemiologist Steffanie Strathdee and her husband, evolutionary psychologist Tom Patterson, were spending the week of Thanksgiving exploring pyramids and pharaoh’s tombs in Egypt when Patterson came down with what seemed like a nasty bout of food poisoning aboard their cruise ship. But as his condition rapidly deteriorated and he had to be emergency medevac’d, first to Germany and then to the medical center at UC San Diego, where both scientists were on staff, blood and imaging tests revealed why Patterson’s body was failing. A soccer-ball-sized cyst in his abdomen was infected—teeming with one of the most dangerous, antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the world.

Thus begins The Perfect Predator, the gripping true tale of one scientist’s crusade to save her husband’s life by resurrecting a centuries-old Soviet cure largely ignored by Western medicine. One part medical mystery, one part personal memoir, the couple’s first book chronicles Strathdee’s frantic attempts to recruit researchers willing to try phage therapy—a cocktail of viruses that prey on bacteria—on Patterson, as he slipped in and out of septic shock and eventually into a coma.

Strathdee - Patterson - Interview - Treatment - Brink

Strathdee and Patterson sat for an interview to talk about the experimental treatment that brought him back from the brink of death, and how it has galvanized scientists and doctors in the US to take a harder look at phage therapy as a potential solution for the coming era of superbugs.

WIRED: Steffanie, before Tom got sick, had you ever heard of phage therapy?

SS - Night - PubMed - Search - Engine

SS: No. I came across it late one night on PubMed [a free, public search engine for biomedical journal articles] along with a number of other alternative therapies for superbug infections. I knew from my college microbiology classes that phages were viruses that prey on bacteria but I didn’t know they had ever been developed for therapeutic purposes....
(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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