Synopses & Reviews
Each year thousands of people die from bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Alternative drugs are urgently needed. A surprising ray of hope is actually a blast from the past. Viruses that kill bacteria, but not us, called 'phages' for short, were discovered around 1915, when infections were still a major cause of illness and death. Phage therapy became popular from the 1920s until the introduction of penicillin 20 years later. Only in the countries of the Eastern block did the therapy survive and thrive. Now western researchers and companies are working on its comeback. This book tells the fascinating story of the discoverers of phages in the west and the Soviet Union. Award-winning science journalist Thomas Häusler follows the trail of one pioneer killed by Stalin's secret service, and his successors in today's war-torn Georgia, accompanying patients taking phages because standard drugs fail them and investigates how these long-forgotten cures may help sick people today.
"An exceptionally thorough book, extraordinarily well written and scientifically authoritative...a book about an explosive subject, that could not have been done better"--Spektrum der Wissenschaften
, the German Scientific American
"Thomas Häusler tells a forgotten chapter of the history of medicine that ends in the present with a surprising comeback. His book is riveting and written in an exemplary style."--Schweizerische Ärztezeitung
"Thomas Häusler traces in his gripping book the story of the rise, the fall and the possible renaissance of bacteriophages as drugs."--Basler Zeitung
"The Swiss science journalist Thomas Häusler has written an extremely compelling popular science book."--Laborjournal
"Häusler's book tells the gripping tale of the once hyped now forgotten phage therapy."--Tages-Anzeiger "Thomas Häusler paints a vivid and engaging picture of the larger-than-life characters who committed themselves to the development of phage therapy. The science is there - in easily understandable language - but so are Stalin's purges and the Second World War. Bacteriophage therapy has not yet taken off - but promise is there. This authoritative book explains why."--T. Hugh Pennington, president of the British Society for General Microbiology
"This book, documented with rare photographs and abundant references, is scientific journalism at its best and a fascinating contribution to the history of medicine."--Professor Hans-Wolfgang Ackermann, Laval University
"Häusler shares with us the fascinating fruits of a remarkable year-long odyssey in time and space, during which he explored the depths of archives old and new, from the Pasteur Institute to NIH, Los Angeles hospitals, Tbilisi clinics and German companies. His thoughtful interviews and strong, ongoing scholarship bring to life the work of Felix d'Herelle and his scientific descendents in tantalizing and accessible fashion." --Elizabeth Kutter, Evergreen State College
"The reader will put down this page-turner inspired, hopeful, and utterly convinced of phage therapy's imminence and inevitability. An indispensable primer for everyone concerned with the onset of the post-antibiotic age."--Asher Wilf, CEO, Phage-Biotech "FOUR STARS: A good book--excellent use of the stories of real people involved in the fight against bacteria." --www.popularscience.co.uk
"Unusually well-researched, outstandingly well-written. This book deserves to be on the shelf of every private and public library." --Epoch Times "A salient and thought provoking take on society's attitudes toward disease and medicine." --www.scienceagogo.com "All the ingredients of a John Le Carré spy novel: fascinating." --EMBO Reports “A thoroughly scholarly account, in a highly entertaining narrative form. A compelling read, populated with fascinating characters.” --Micro Today "Valuable reading, both for specialists and for interested general readers." --Journal of the American Medical Association
In the US alone some 90,000 people die from superbugs--bacteria that have grown immune to antibiotics. Officials agree that this problem will only get worse with time and new alternatives must be found. One alternative that is being considered by scientists is a kind of virus called a bacteriophage. "Phages"--viruses that kill bacteria but not humans--were discovered in 1915. Phage therapy was successfully used for twenty years before the invention of penicillin made them obsolete everywhere but Eastern Europe, where they are still in use today. In its first English translation, this book tells the fascinating story behind the history of the phage, its discovery and development, as well as the strides that are being made to bring the therapy back to the West today.
A new look at the old drugs that could help with the antibiotic crisis
About the Author
Thomas Häusler is chief science editor of the Swiss news magazine Facts and has won several awards for his journalistic work. He lives in Switzerland.