Valuable reading, both for specialists and for interested general readers.
A page turner, full of human drama and the race for discovery.
A thoroughly scholarly account, in a highly entertaining narrative form. A compelling read, populated with fascinating characters.
All the ingredients of a John Le Carré spy novel: fascinating.
*Starred Review* Once upon a time, before penicillin, medicine’s perpetual battle with bacterial infection was waged with biological weapons. Phages — viruses that kill bacteria but are harmless to humans — were used to perform duties for which they seemed uniquely destined. The story of bacteriophage therapy, which began in the early twentieth century, is dramatic and frustrating. The drama lies in Swiss science editor Häusler’s account of how the ideas of an arrogant rogue scientist, Felix d’Herelle, flew in the faces of his contemporaries and how he persevered to prove his hypotheses, only to see his discovery put on a back burner, at least in the West, when modern antibiotics burst upon the scene. That development would have been fine if it had meant a conclusion to struggle against the likes of strep and staph infections. The problem is, however, that greater and greater numbers of serious bacteria are becoming antibiotic resistant. With nearly 90,000 Americans dying each year because antibiotic treatments are no longer effective, something must be done. Häusler proposes renewed investigation into bacteriophage therapy but paints a dismal picture of its likelihood. It is, he says, effective and organic but unlikely to become a cash cow for pharmaceutical companies. (by Donna Chavez, © American Library Association)
FOUR STARS: A good book – excellent use of the stories of real people involved in the fight against bacteria.
Unusually well-researched, outstandingly well-written. This book deserves to be on the shelf of every private and public library.
«Antibiotics crisis» is not hyperbole: every year, more than 90,000 Americans die from drug-resistant infections, many of which are contracted in hospitals. Penicillin and the spectrum of antibiotics developed in the mid-20th century are increasingly ineffective against such bacterial infections as tuberculosis, cholera, E-coli, and staphylococcus and streptococcus. Häusler, a Swiss science journalist and editor, reports on the possibility of using bacteriophages, or «phages» — viruses that attack bacteria — to combat multidrug–resistant diseases and infections. Using viruses to fight bacteria is not new: phage research has been conducted in Eastern Europe for upwards of 80 years, and accounts of miracle cures are legion. But now Western biotech companies are starting to pay attention. Convincing the FDA to allow physicians to write prescriptions for viruses may be a daunting task, but the stakes are high and the possibilities compelling. Häusler’s engaging and thought-provoking narrative is recommended for most libraries interested in heathcare issues. (by Kathy Arsenault, Univ. of South Florida at St. Petersburg Library)