By Alexandra Sifferlin, TIME
“There are no new antibiotics coming, and if they do come, bacteria tend to develop resistance to the drugs within a year,” says Young.
The paucity of treatment options is fueling interest in phage, which some researchers are calling a critical weapon against the kind of infections that threatened the lives of Mallory Smith and Tom Patterson. For now, however, phage is not widely available in the U.S. Only a handful of people have received it, and it requires special clearance, because it isn’t yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Before phage can go mainstream, the science needs to catch up–which experts are hopeful will happen in 2018, when a number of trials will kick off in the U.S. If the science bears out phage’s promise, it would be life altering–and life saving–for the millions of people around the world who contract superbug infections every year.