Left. Electron Micrograph of bacteriophage T4. Right. Model of phage T4. The phage possesses a genome of linear ds DNA contained within an icosahedral head. The tail consists of a hollow core through which the DNA is injected into the host cell. The tail fibers are involved with recognition of specific viral "receptors" on the bacterial cell surface.
King Kong vs. Godzilla? How about bacteria vs. fungi!
This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science
Saying, if much smaller, their battle is an age-old story. And, good for us—antibiotics made from penicillium and other fungi have saved countless lives.
But antibiotics ain’t what they used to be. Many bacteria are becoming drug-resistant. Diseases like staph and tuberculosis are making scary comebacks.
Luckily, bacteria have another enemy: bacteriophages, also known as phages. These are viruses that only strike bacteria. Phages commandeer bacteria by injecting their own genetic material, turning the bacteria into virus-making factories.
Enter Israeli researcher Udi Qimron. He thought he could use this natural antagonism to create a new class of antibiotics. Specifically, using a phage called T-7 that attacks our old nemesis E. coli. His still-early results are promising.
So will doctors inject us with live viruses? Nope. A single protein will do. Qimron and his colleagues isolated one from T-7 that shuts down E. coli cell division. If it can’t divide, it can’t survive—and can't colonize us.
Making for a very boring action movie. Thank goodness.
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