Will we have to face a worldwide pandemic against which antibiotics will be of no help? On one side, a million of billion bacteria, filling all but every ecological niche of the Earth; on the other side, men: ‘only’ 6.5 billion individuals. For the last half-century – a considerably short time –, these two opponents have been engaged in a raging war. Hundreds of tons of antibiotics have been poured into the environment or else ingested by humans and animals. Today, the result of this battle proves irrevocable: bacteria have evolved into increasingly resistant strains. As to pharmaceutical laboratories, having almost exhausted their weapons, they are yet flooding the market with mass-produced medicines – a headlong rush that causes fundamental research to gradually lose its primacy.
For the first time, a researcher and an anthropologist both of international renown have combined their efforts in a report that will undoubtedly mark a milestone in history. Recounting the fascinating history of antibiotics and analysing the stakes of their production, the two authors explore every possible solution to a major problem… While reminding us in passing that a human body in perfect health contains more bacteria than cells.
Antoine Andremont is a Lecturer at the Parisian University of Medicine University (Paris VII) and also the Director of the Medical Microbiology Laboratory at the Bichat Claude-Bernard Hospital. Since 25 years, he has devoted himself to study bacteria responsible for human infections.
Michel Tibon-Cornillot is Ph.D. in philosophy. An anthropologist at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS), he has worked for the Pasteur Institute’s molecular genetics laboratory and is the author of Les Corps Transfigurés (‘The Transfigured Bodies’, Seuil Editions, winner of the Psyché Prize). At the intersection of philosophy and biology, his work aims to demonstrate that the controversy raised by contemporary techniques does not lie in their regulation but rather in their uncontrolled flood.