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Microbe Roundup

March 10, 2006

It’s uncanny how quickly germs come up with counter-defenses against every drug that researchers develop. Here we report on two new efforts to gain the upper hand.


Corralling killer bugs. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Flesh-eating bacteria can quickly kill muscle and skin cells. Researchers at the University of California- San Diego think they’ve discovered how they run amok. Your body’s white blood cells catch and kill most bacteria by trapping them in a net made of DNA and toxic compounds. But the researchers have found that flesh-eating bacteria pr,duce an enzyme that cuts through this net. They hope to develop drugs that neutralize the bacterial enzyme, allowing our white blood cells to hold on to the bugs long enough to kill them.

In other microbe news, drug-resistent tuberculosis is becoming more and more common, and it’s often lethal. Now researchers at Johns Hopkins have a new drug that kills the bug in lab animals, and may even kill it during its latent phase, before it causes symptoms.
I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.