Scientists Hunt for a Killer Virus
November 10, 2017 2:17 PM   Subscribe

The word from the doctors came early this week: They had tried one cocktail of antibiotics after another, but Mallory Smith’s fever and chill and chest rattle were only getting worse. They were out of options. Her father, though, had an idea. He wanted to infect Mallory with a virus — one carefully selected to kill the bacteria that had colonized her lungs. It was hardly foolproof, and it would require special emergency approval from the federal government, but it might just do what the antibiotics couldn’t.
posted by Bella Donna (9 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, you have a problem with rabbits in your garden? Just drop a couple dozen pythons in there, problem solved.
posted by Literaryhero at 2:44 PM on November 10

(Mefi's own Blasdelb has made some great comments and posts about phages, if you want to really dig into the background of these fascinating living-ish things.)
posted by clawsoon at 2:45 PM on November 10 [8 favorites]

(If you don't want to dig through all of Blasdelb's posts and comments, here is a paper Blasdelb co-authored on the 90-year history of phage treatment of human diseases. It was big in the Soviet Union for a while, especially in Georgia. It's fascinating stuff.)
posted by clawsoon at 2:53 PM on November 10 [19 favorites]

Seconding clawsoon's recommendation of the Blasdelb et al paper (I've cited it professionally/academically!) and generally all things Blasdelb regarding bacteriophages. The link presents phage therapy as this far out, crazy-bananas novel idea, but using phages for infections is basically as old as antibiotics and represents an interesting parallel path of medical history.
posted by Panjandrum at 4:08 PM on November 10 [6 favorites]

Thanks for the tips! I know nuthin about this stuff except that it fascinates me.
posted by Bella Donna at 5:03 PM on November 10

Bacteriophages may save our antibiotic resistant butts. But that's assuming we don't get too cocky with them, IMO. Just don't let the meat industry know about them.
posted by BlueHorse at 5:53 PM on November 10

So the article was written before they actually found any phages that might help Mallory Smith? It's strange to see a story written in the present tense like that.

Well, I hope they find the right phages and the treatment is successful!
posted by Kevin Street at 10:39 PM on November 10 [6 favorites]

Yes, totally weird that it's written as a success story and we have no idea yet how the story ends.
posted by Bella Donna at 6:00 AM on November 14 [1 favorite]

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