Steffanie Strathdee and her husband Tom Patterson were on the trip of a lifetime to Egypt in 2015 when Patterson fell ill with a powerful bacteria known as Acinetobacter baumannii. “I was in and out of a coma. I was hallucinating,” Patterson told The Current’s Anna Maria Tremonti.
Steffanie Strathdee is an infectious-disease epidemiologist, and associate dean of global health sciences and professor at the University of California, San Diego, school of medicine. She also directs the new UC San Diego Center for Innovative Phage Application and Therapeutics and is an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins and Simon Fraser Universities.
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The rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria is a human health crisis. But few people appreciate the impact of this phenomenon on their lives. This week, we’re going to take a very personal look at what happens when someone gets a resistant infection and how a treatment from a century ago is making a comeback not just for our health but also our food supply.
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.
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The FDA has given clearance for the first clinical trial in the United States to test an IV-administered bacteriophage-based therapy to kill drug-resistant bacteria.The agency accepted an investigational new drug application for the planned trial from researchers at the University of California, San Diego, according to a news release.
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Two days after walking through the pyramids, Tom Patterson got very sick. The psychiatry professor was in Egypt with his wife on one of their many adventurous vacations away from life in California. One minute he was fine, hamming it up in a touristy horse-and-buggy ride across the desert.
When Thomas Patterson woke up from a two-month coma in March 2016, he learned two things he couldn’t believe: Donald Trump was soon to become the Republican nominee for president, and his wife, Steffanie Strathdee, had saved him from dying of an antibiotic-resistant superbug by injecting him with viruses harvested from sewage.
Tom Patterson should have died during those weeks in March 2016 when he lay comatose, a lethal strain of multi-drug-resistant bacteria raging through his body. Antibiotics proved useless, and his doctors were grim. They were losing him. He should have died, but he didn’t.
Physicians are turning to phage therapy as a treatment, which is seen as one of the more promising frontiers in the war on superbugs.
Steffanie Strathdee hunched over her laptop, fretting. She barely noticed the kittens asleep next to her or the serene Buddha figure across the living room, anchored next to the glass doors that looked toward the gleaming Pacific.
T he researcher couldn’t get Mallory Smith’s story out of her mind. Smith was a 25-year-old cystic fibrosis patient, and she was near death at a Pittsburgh hospital, her lungs overwhelmed by bacteria. All antibiotics had failed. As a last resort, her father suggested an experimental treatment known as phage therapy.
F ORT DETRICK, Md. – By the time word reached the U.S. Navy, the situation was dire. A man was dying. At most, he had a few weeks left. There was an experimental treatment that might help – and one of the biggest stashes in the country was kept here, behind the checkpoints of a military base, in a lab directed by Lt.