These are viruses called bacteriophages that infect only bacterial cells.
Bacteria are becoming resistant to even the most powerful antibiotics. These expensive, hard-to-treat infections are prompting physicians to reassess using viruses to destroy bacteria.
Svalbard archipelago, Norway.
Antibiotic resistance is common in bacteria where there's a large human population and poor sanitation. For the first time however, it's been found in the remote Arctic.
Antibiotic-resistant germs can thrive in the presence of these drugs.
Our bodies have a set of defenses that are finely tuned for killing invading microbes. With rising cases of drug-resistant bacteria, maybe boosting our natural defenses is the best medicine.
Paramedics bury a man who died of the Nipah virus in Kozhikode, southern India, in May 2018. There is no vaccine for the virus, which can cause raging fevers, convulsions and vomiting, and kills up to 75 per cent of people infected.
As new viruses "jump" from wildlife to humans and we struggle with antimicrobial resistance and even climate change, a new interdisciplinary approach to human health might just save the day.
And don’t infect everyone else in the office either.
The overuse of antibiotics puts vulnerable patients and society at risk.
There already exist some promising new antibiotic therapies, and more are in the pipeline. However, our economic model prevents researchers from moving them out onto the market.
The end of effective antibiotics will be frightening. Life expectancy will fall dramatically and people of all ages will die from illnesses that we are used to treating with $10 worth of pills.
Hand washing is an effective way to help prevent the spread of bacteria.
Millions of bacteria live on our skin without making us sick. It's when they manage to get through that they can be dangerous – particularly if they're resistant to antibiotics.
An artist depiction of a biofilm harboring antibiotic-resistant rod-shaped and spherical bacteria.
Smooth surfaces often provide nooks and crannies for bacteria to hold onto and create a colony. New research with nanoparticles is revealing the secrets of surfaces that prevent bacterial attachment.
Our view of this essential dimension of earth’s biome has been shaped by the manufacturers of cleaning products.
When bacteria change, antibiotics can stop working.
Antibiotic resistance is a major and growing global health threat. These five recent examples show us how dangerous it can be.
A poster from a world summit in Hong Kong on preparing for worldwide pandemics in June 2010. Despite efforts to develop plans, none is yet in place.
Vincent Yu/AP Photo
It's not a matter of if, but when, the next deadly pandemic will strike. Will the world be ready?
The truth about cats and dogs.
Farm animals are the subject of WHO initiatives around antibiotics, but domestic pets could actually be a bigger risk.
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria inside a biofilm.
Triclosan, an ingredient in soap and many household cleansers, has gained a bad reputation. A recent study looking for a way to boost an antibiotic, however, found that tricloscan did a great job.
Clostridium difficile bacteria causes diarrhea and inflammation of the colon.
By Kateryna Kon/shutterstock.com
A new type of antibiotic uses DNA to fight a common deadly microbe, Clostridium difficile. These new drugs are inexpensive and adaptable and can be modified to target any bacterium, lowering the chance of drug resistance.
Bacteria exchange genes easily, but a newly discovered set of rules that regulate these exchanges could help us to prevent the spread of antibiotic resistance.
The discovery of molecular rules that regulate the transfer of genetic material between bacteria could help prevent the spread of antibiotic resistance.
Cattle that are grass-fed, antibiotic- and growth hormone-free gather at a farm in Oregon in 2015. There’s a debate over whether antibiotic use in livestock makes germs more resistant to the drugs, and results in infections being passed on to humans who consume the meat.
(AP Photo/Don Ryan)
The use of antibiotics in raising livestock is complex. We could be moving towards a less-than-ideal result due to poor understanding, over-simplistic messaging and a rush for competitive advantage.
Bacteria in the dish on the left are sensitive to antibiotics in the paper discs. The ones on the right are resistant to four of the seven antibiotics.
Dr. Graham Beards
Antibiotic-munching microbes may prove useful for mopping up contaminated water supplies and land.
Research shows potential for delivering our drugs in ways that would make it harder for antibiotic resistance to evolve and spread. Here we see a close up view of a biofilm of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
As a post-antibiotic future beckons, how can humanity protect itself against the proliferation of superbugs? Research suggests 'drug sanctuaries' in hospitals could be a promising solution.
Vchal / www.shutterstock.com
New research shows just 1% of E. coli bacteria's genetic mutations are lethal.
High-tech ways to scan nature’s own creations.
Pharmaceutical companies focus on small molecules they've devised – and can easily patent. But nature's already come up with many antibacterial compounds that drug designers could use to make medicines.