The potentially fatal Clostridium difficile bacterium is a serious problem in hospitals due to its resistance to antibiotics. However, a team of scientists from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Hamburg, Germany, may have found a new way to treat these difficult bacteria – by using viruses to “eat” them.
Viruses called bacteriophages infect only bacteria, using the bacteria’s own DNA-reading machinery to duplicate themselves and destroy the bacteria’s cell walls. Breaking down these walls causes the bacteria to explode, allowing the bacteriophages to burst out and find new bacteria to attack.
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