by Gregory Brunette figures by Daniel Utter Every year, new biology students dig for tiny, bacteria-infecting viruses called phages. Short for bacteriophages, these ubiquitous viruses thrive unseen in the world around us, replicating endlessly through their host bacteria. Phages outnumber all other living organisms on Earth; and their overwhelming diversity presents a challenge to the researchers who study them. In a program administered by Dr. … Continue reading Superbug Treatments Live in the Dirt
CRISPR is a highly effective immune system that defends bacteria from viruses. It was recently shown that some viruses have evolved counter-defenses that protect their DNA with a nucleus-like structure. Continue reading Some viruses can defeat CRISPR with nucleus-like compartments
It’s that time of year – Nobel Prize season! This year, the Chemistry Nobel prize was awarded to three scientists: one half to Frances Arnold “for the directed evolution of enzymes,” and the other half to George Smith and Sir Gregory Winter “for the phage display of peptides and antibodies.” What exactly are these award-winning technologies and how have they impacted society? ‘Directed evolution of … Continue reading The Chemistry Nobel: Evolving proteins into better medicines and biofuels
by Veerasak “Jeep” Srisuknimit figures by Jovana Andrejevic Our time with antibiotics is running out. In 2016, a woman in Nevada died from a bacterial infection caused by Klebsiella pneumoniae that was resistant to all available antibiotics. Bacteria that is resistant to colistin, an antibiotic of last resort, has been discovered on pig farms in China. Bacteria have been evolving to resist antibiotics faster than … Continue reading Bacteriophage: A solution to our antibiotics problem?
Ever wonder why we make snot? Mucus lines our respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts, acting as a sticky glue that traps unwanted substances before they can get into the body. However, research from Jeremy Barr’s lab in Melbourne, Australia has shown that there might be a lot more to the story of snot. Barr and his team have found that mucus contains a far higher concentration … Continue reading Bacteria-killing viruses: an army of disease-fighters within us?