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

NPR5 min readFood & Wine
50 Years After Apollo 11, Here's What (And How) Astronauts Are Eating
Ever since astronaut John Glenn's first bite of applesauce in 1962, eating in space has been a challenge. NPR talks to former NASA food scientists to see how cosmic cuisine has evolved over the years.
NPR2 min read
Some Title X Recipients Will Have More Time To Comply With New Abortion Rules
The rules block recipients of federal grants from referring patients for abortion. The Trump administration says groups working in "good faith" will have until Aug. 19 to provide written assurance.
NPR2 min readPolitics
Ukrainian President's Party Wins Snap Elections In Bid To Consolidate Power
President Volodymyr Zelensky, who gained fame by playing a fictional president on television, hopes a new parliament will give him the clout to follow through on his promise to tackle corruption.