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© Melanie Blokesch, EPFL
Flagellated Vibrio cholerae

When the first antibiotics were discovered in the early 20th century, the rate of death from infectious diseases fell dramatically. But the emergence of multidrug-resistant bacteria as a result of antibiotic misuse is raising fears that by 2050, these same diseases will once again become the leading cause of death worldwide. In a bid to boost the arsenal available to tackle this threat, scientists from the Bacterial Genome plasticity team successfully programmed a bacterial genetic structure to make it capable of specifically killing multiple antibiotic-resistant bacteria without also destroying bacteria that are beneficial to the body. Unlike other approaches under development, this novel tool is associated with a minimal rate of emergence of new resistance. The results were published in the journal Nature Biotechnology.

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