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Phage Crusade

Phage Crusade

A Canadian scientist once harnessed the power of viruses against bacterial infections. In dire times, a new generation of scientists is fighting to do the same.

Jeff Summerhayes knows the drill. The bleak hospital corridors, the calls on the intercom, the IV tubes in his arms dangling from their holders like chandeliers—all have been familiar since Summerhayes’s childhood. But the bug was still in him and all the antibiotics had failed. Now he was lying in a bed at Vancouver General Hospital with his sister sitting beside him, both expecting to hear, once again, that he didn’t have long to live. 

Summerhayes has cystic fibrosis, a life-shortening genetic condition that thickens mucus, renders breathing laborious and transforms lungs into prime breeding grounds for bacteria. With a strain of Burkholderia cenocepacia lodged in his lungs for most of the last forty years—a strain that has become extremely resistant to antibiotics—Summerhayes has so far managed to forestall death. A double lung transplant in September 2018 had left him with a fifty-fifty chance of ...

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