In the end, it was viruses, not an antibiotic, that saved Tom Patterson’s life after a superbug infection he suffered in Egypt left him hallucinating, comatose and near death for months.
Acinetobacter baumannii, a type of toxin-excreting bacteria ranked near the top of the U.S. government’s threat list, had nearly destroyed the UC San Diego professor’s kidneys. At that point, his wife, the infectious-disease specialist Steffanie Strathdee, decided to get creative.
Why not try infecting her husband with bacteria-hunting viruses called bacteriophages? After all, the medical literature showed that these ancient microbes can kill even germs that have evolved resistance to all antibiotics. But finding just the right bacteriophages would be a painstaking and risk-filled process.
With Patterson’s condition deteriorating rapidly and seemingly no other way to save his life, his medical team at UC San Diego Health agreed to give the bacteriophages idea a try.
Click here to read the full story by Paul Sisson, Contact Reporter SD Union Tribune.