NPR

'Predatory Bacteria' Might Be Enlisted In Defense Against Antibiotic Resistance

Microbe-eating-microbes are found in "almost every ecosystem on Earth," says a defense department scientist who hopes bacteria of this type might one day be deployed to fight human infections.
It's a bacteria-eat-bacteria world, scientists say. Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus, shown here in false color, swims around with the aid of its whip-like tail, attacks common germs six times its size, then devours them from the inside out. Source: Alfred Pasieka/Science Source

Here's a bold idea to fight back against bacteria that can't be stopped by antibiotics: Go after them with germ-eating microbes. That reasoning lies behind an intriguing line of research that might also be put to use in the event of a germ-warfare attack.

It might seem strange to think of microbe-eating microbes, but "actually they're found in almost every ecosystem on Earth," says Brad Ringeisen, deputy director of the Biological Technologies Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

They're even living inside us, but at levels so

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR6 min read
Opioid Addiction In Jails: An Anthropologist's Perspective
In Getting Wrecked: Women, Incarceration, and the American Opioid Crisis, a Rikers Island doctor says drug treatment in U.S. jails and prisons is often shaped by societal prejudice, not science.
NPR14 min readPolitics
Transcript: NPR's Full Interview With Rep. Adam Schiff On Impeachment Inquiry
NPR host Steve Inskeep interviews House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., about the impeachment inquiry into President Trump — ahead of Wednesday's start to public hearings.
NPR3 min readSociety
When Countries Get Wealthier, Kids Can Lose Out On Vaccines
Childhood vaccines are often subsidized in the poorest countries. But not for those moving up the wealth ladder.