The Surprisingly Tricky Task of Outsmarting Bacteria
Bacteria are literally brainless single-celled organisms. They don’t even have cell nuclei. But the future of fighting bacterial infections may involve outsmarting the critters.
We’ve been trying to outfight them for the past hundred years with a range of antibiotics, which have been pretty successful in developed countries with easy access to medical resources. (If you’re reading this, it’s more likely that you’ve seen tuberculosis as portrayed by an actor wearing red eyeliner than in real life.) But as it turns out, all that sheer force has built badder bugs. The CDC estimates that >23,000 people die every year as a direct result of infection by antibiotic-resistant bacteria — just in the United States. And it’s only gonna get worse.
But researchers have found that bacteria can communicate with each other through what they’re calling quorum sensing — the production, release, and detection of signal molecules. And they’re working on ways of jamming those bacterial signals. There’s still lots of testing to be done, but this could be the replacement for traditional antibiotics that humanity needs.
[image source: How Cells Work]