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Healthy Viruses Roundup

October 12, 2012

Most viruses are actually harmless, and some can even help us stay healthy.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Viruses to the rescue. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Bacteriophage viruses survive by attacking bacteria. Scientists report in the journal Biotechnology and Bioengineering that they are using these viruses to kill disease-causing bacteria called pseudomonas that contaminate water filters at water treatment centers. The bacteria form films that protect them against chlorine and other disinfectants.  The researchers suggest that these viruses could provide a new weapon against a variety of hard to kill bacteria.

In other virus news, researchers report in the journal mBio that another Bacteriophage virus– commonly found on the skin– kills acne-causing bacteria. And studies of the virus showed that it didn’t harm other, beneficial microbes. The team is currently looking into whether the virus could help control acne, and also studying bacteria-killing compounds that it produces, to see if they alone could be an effective treatment. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Structure of a typical bacteriophage. (Adenosine/PBroks13/Wikimedia Commons)