The book. After being relegated to the ranks of laboratory tools in western countries, phages, these bacterial viruses, discovered them in the early 20th centurye Century arouse new interest in view of antibiotic resistance. How to develop phage therapies while breaking free from the eradication logic that accompanies the misuse of antibiotics, in both animal health and human health?
The anthropologist Charlotte Brives explores this question in her book counter antibiotic resistance. A political ecology of microbes, with a foreword by the recently deceased philosopher Bruno Latour. And that’s it, according to the feminist approach scientific and technical studies that it proceeds to the deconstruction of the relevant infrastructure from the language of war, which reduces microbes to their pathogenic dimension, to the mass production of antibiotics by the capitalist system and carrying out their evaluation according to the criteria of medicine on the basis of evidence. “So what can medical practice based on the eradication of microbes mean when the relationships we have with them seem far more complex and expansive than a simple relationship of pathogenicity? »She asks.
A search for new models
His rich and original investigation begins with the story of André, a paraplegic man suffering from intractable urinary tract infections, whom two doctors initially refused the promised help in administering phages bought in Georgia. Hence an anger that the author describes sensitively and at the same time reveals the political dimension. “It would be very easy to downplay André’s speech for its excess and ‘conspiracy’ accents, to exclude André from the discussions for his tendency to disrespect the implicit rules. What fascinates me when I listen to him is rather the way in which he politically translates his life with certain microorganisms: There seems to be a solution; this solution is not available in France », she analyses.
It then leads the reader to reflect on the multiple possibilities of phages, bacteria and their interactions with their environment, including the human body, through a visit to a microbiology laboratory, the questions of infectiologists involved in the decision between amputation and a new therapeutic attempt are confronted with, or the limits of regulatory frameworks.
Although the book will be more accessible to readers familiar with the sociology of science than to novices, its interest also lies in the author’s search for new models that, without denying the methods of evidence-based medicine, enrich them. This is the case of the tailor-made therapies developed at the Croix Rousse Hospital in Lyon or at the Reine Astrid Military Hospital in Brussels, based on the search for the most accurate answers to complex medical situations, it is no longer a matter of claiming to be able to eradicate at any price, but to accept and make it livable.
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