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Engineered Bacteriophages

Posted by tigerhawkvok on March 14, 2009 01:52 in biology , medicine

Some quick updates on last week's Nature:

Scientists are coming up with a novel way to fight bacterial infections in light of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria, such as MRSA: make viruses do the work for you. By engineering viruses to weaken bacteria, antibiotics become more effective. The trick is, actually not to kill the bacteria. If you kill the bacteria, selection works too strongly, and you have bacteria that become resistant to the viruses. Instead, by making the bacteria weaker, you need bacteria to survive a one-two punch: supression of lexA3 (renders bacteria unable to repair DNA as well) and drugs (particularly of the sort that damages DNA).

MRSA comic.  Source unspecified.

The catch? You need to engineer a bacteriophage that is very specific, down to strain. Unless entire cocktails can be manufactured, strain-specific identification is required.

Lets see if a bit on Higgs gets posted tonight, or if I'm lazy and go watch Dollhouse.

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