Thursday, August 4, 2022

The Perfect Predator - Book Review


Imagine being on vacation halfway around the world when your robust loved one is suddenly struck down by a mysterious condition that is immediately life-threatening. By the time you can get your partner on a medevac from Egypt, to Germany, and then back home to San Diego, his chances of surviving are slim to none.

The Perfect Predator is as real world as it gets. This medical thriller memoir could soon be your story, or mine. Thomas Patterson's life-or-death struggle against the deadliest antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the world is no longer an isolated phenomenon. By 2050, someone will die every three seconds as a result of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. It's already happening far too often—death by superbug.

By the time Patterson's diagnosis is made, his medical team soon runs out of answers and treatment options. It will be his wife, Steffanie Strathdee, an infectious disease epidemiologist, who refuses to give up... refuses to lose hope. Ultimately, it will be Strathdee's detective work that saves her husband's life.

Sometimes, the way forward is backward. One hundred years ago, before the advent of antibiotics, scientists were exploring phage therapy. Phages, which are viruses that prey on bacteria, though promising, were largely forgotten when antibiotics became the golden drug, the go-to treatment for infections. 

While reading this book, I became completely blown away by the science, and wonder, of phages. They are everywhere (including within our bodies). A single drop of water may host a trillion phages! It turns out the right phage, aka The Perfect Predator, can take down even the deadliest of superbugs. 

With the assistance of a rapidly deployed dream team (including key people from the FDA, Texas A&M University, the Navy, and the University of California San Diego), Strathdee and Patterson achieve an impossible outcome: a sure death is defeated.

If ever there was a timely read, this is it. The Perfect Predator is not only an exceptionally enlightening examination of the state of medicine in a world battling rampant global health emergencies, but it is also the kind of hero's journey that proves the power of one (plus one, plus one). One individual can make a difference, especially in combination with even a small community of people willing to go all out to achieve the impossibly possible. 










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13 comments:

  1. Sounds amazing and and almost supernatural that even with all of today's medical advances, the "tried, but true" of the past becomes the needed medical miracle. I'm all for science and research and advances in medicine and everything else. But, conversely, I think we are often too quick to discard the past basics that worked for the shiny new versions. Glad Strathdee was able to save her husband with an older medical application that worked.

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  2. It was, and is, beyond amazing. Sounds like science fiction before you delve deeply into it (and maybe even then). It's a cautionary tale of not becoming too reliant on drugs that wipe out one's natural microbiome (the good gut flora). I greatly respect those who are willing to pursue that which is not mainstream. I, too, am thankful for the outcome. Losing anyone in this manner would be tragic. Love and science conquered all.

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  3. Wow ....this sounds really intriguing AND SCARY too! Thanks for the recommend.

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    1. Yes... totally intriguing. The thing I find scary is the thought of picking up a deadly infection in a hospital after routine surgery (think sepsis). It makes me want to avoid invasive procedures and places where it is easy to be exposed to the worst kinds of bacteria.

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  4. We have certainly been lulled into the belief that there is a "drug" therapy for everything and of course, there is not. This is a frightening subject. I immediately thought of the deadly water amoeba. Since the book is a memoir, it is even more frightening to realize it is a true story. Very few people would have the knowledge and/or resources to find a cure in time to save a life.

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    1. I am definitely creeped out when I read about people who go swimming and end up dying from the effects caused by a brain-eating amoeba. You just don't expect it.

      Yes... "Predator" is all too real. Steffanie and Thomas lived this horror story. No doubt, this is something that continues to rock their world. And now their experience, and what they are learning along the way, is saving many more lives.

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  5. Sounds like an incredible read. I have a friend who I think would love this book! You really have me wanting to learn more about "phages" - oh my that sounds fascinating - and the way you put it is well said; 'sometimes the way forward is backward.'

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    1. Like you, I find myself wanting to learn so much more about phages. Just the little bit I have gleaned has left me gobsmacked (and I do love that state of being).

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  6. Five plus years ago, I ghost-wrote in-depth articles for medical clients about the dire implications of the superbug evolution caused by rampant overprescription of antibiotics. Many doctors have been in a Catch-22, with patients who have viral rather than bacterial infections demanding antibiotics (that won’t help) and threatening to rate and review the physicians and the hospitals with which they are affiliated poorly if the refuse to prescribe them. The public desperately needs to be educated about inappropriate antibiotic use, but many people are too closed-minded to listen, and by now it’s almost like closing the barn door after the animals have left.

    I am intrigued and hopeful about the revival in phage research and look forward to read this important book. Thank you so much for your excellent review and recommendation!

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    1. I am not surprised you have written these critical articles. It is something completely worthy of your time and talent. The perspective you shared, about some doctors being pressured to prescribe antibiotics, is something I had not considered. I would hate to be in that position as a medical professional. If only people knew how long it takes to rebuild a microbiome inappropriately wiped out by a drug that cannot address their condition. It is so critical for everyone to learn enough to be good healthcare partners. I will look forward to your reflection on this book after you read it.

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  7. Oh my goodness Diana, this book will be on my MUST read list as soon as I finish writing this comment. I love true stories that put human experiences out in the open for all to see. Superbugs are scary and many people have no clue about them and how to contain them. I know I will enjoy this book and I'm sure my better half will as well. Thank you for this book review, I hope lots of people read it!

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    1. I hope you two find this to be as compelling as I did. Mostly, I read amazing true stories these days (about people making a real difference in the world). It fills me up with hope rather than fear. These are the individuals who inspire me to push the boundaries of living, and being, and doing what matters most. This is a book that more than deserves to be read and shared.

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  8. This sounds terrifying and riveting at the same time. I read your comment above, "It fills me up with hope rather than fear". That is a good thing. We must live in hope. And joy. And in the moment. I'm glad this story inspired you.

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