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Electron micrograph of Bacteriophages
Electron micrograph of Bacteriophages
Raphaëlle Maruchitch

PARIS — After he was in a car accident, Serge Fortuna was left with an infected wound that wouldn’t heal. When his doctors started talking about amputation, he refused and decided to try something else: a trip to the Republic of Georgia for phagotherapy, a treatment that uses specific bacteria-fighting viruses to heal antibiotic-resistant infections. The treatment was a success, and Fortuna now helps others get the treatment.

Later this year, hospitals in France, Belgium and Switzerland will begin unprecedented clinical trials of bacteriophages, viruses that attack bacteria, and will base their research in France. Phagotherapy is an ancient treatment that has already proven its medical potential, and now it is inspiring hope in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.

But it still illegal everywhere except Russia and Georgia. Just 18 months ago, Dr. Alain Dublanchet — a microbiologist, former hospital chief and fervent supporter of phagotherapy — still faced a massive number of obstacles in his crusade to reintroduce the treatment in France legally.

At the time, the French start-up Pherecydes Pharma was starting preliminary clinical trials of phages on animals. Since then, the results have shown “very high efficacy,” says Jérôme Gabard, CEO of the company. Along with two other doctors, Gabard assembled an application for financing from the European Union. Last June the group was given a little over 3.8 million euros to investigate the use of phages against stubborn infections.

The project is called Phagoburn, and it is being rolled out in burn units in public, private and military hospitals. The trials will include about 200 burn patients. Pherecydes Pharma will finalize the virus cocktail, and a Nantes-based company called Clean Cells will produce them.

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Society

Urban Indigenous: How Peru's Shipibo-Conibo Keep Amazon Culture Alive In The City

For four years, indigenous photographer David Díaz Gonzales has documented the lives and movements of his Shipibo-Conibo community, as many of them migrated from their native Peruvian Amazon to the city. A work of remembrance and resistance.

For Shipibo-Conibo women, sporting a fringe is usually a sign of celebration or ceremony.

Rosa Chávez Yacila

YARINACOCHA — It was decades ago when the Shipibo-Conibo left their settlements along the banks of the Ucayali River, in eastern Peru, to begin a great migration to the cities. Still among the largest Amazonian communities in Peru — 32,964 according to the Ministry of Culture — though most Shipibo-Conibo now live in the urban district of Yarinacocha.

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