phage therapy across the iron curtain
Bacteriophages, or ‘phages,’ are viruses that infect bacteria. In recent years, with the global growth of antibiotic resistance, more and more attention has been paid to using these viruses as specific alternative to antibiotics. Far from a new intervention, phage therapy is over a century old. A promising treatment in the 1920s and 1930s, phages were eclipsed by mass production of antibiotics during World War II, only surviving in Soviet Georgia and a few other socialist countries.
This project seeks to explain both the curious survival of phage therapy in the niches of Soviet medicine. From the multispecies medicine perspective, bacteriophages present an extreme case on the boundary of life and non-life. This marginal status allows us to investigate how conceiving of how a therapy with an organism makes a difference compared to a chemical drug or a biological preparation, and how ideas and language of liveliness affected its designers and users.