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Critical Focus | Germ Versus Germ


2022, Volume 69:4, pp. 163 – 174


Brian J. Ford

Bacteriophages — viruses that destroy bacteria — were introduced 100 years ago and used in communist countries, yet the West has not realized their potential to cure infections.

It’s July 2022, and there’s much excitement in the newsroom at CNN. An astonishing new miracle cure is being announced. Steffanie Strathdee was gently cradling the hand of her husband Tom Patterson in the hospital. He was close to death from a bacterial infection contracted on a cruise to Egypt. Antibiotics had proved useless, when she dramatically decided to try something revolutionary. She contacted Texas A&M University, whom she knew had been working on the treatment of recalcitrant infections using viruses. The viruses that attack and destroy bacteria are bacteriophages — phages in daily parlance, pronounced to rhyme with “Taj” in Taj Mahal. It was with phage viruses that the Texas team proposed treatment, instead of drugs. Within three weeks her husband was cured.

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