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How Bacteriophages May One Day Save Us

While the discovery of penicillin is one of the most important scientific achievements in human history, many scientists today believe that we're painting ourselves into a corner because of overuse of antibiotics. This isn't a fringe idea, either. The CDC has an entire section of their website dedicated to educating the public about antibiotic resistance.

Bacteria, like all living organisms, must adapt and evolve to conditions in order to survive. By peppering bacteria with antibiotics over the years, we've given them a new evolutionary hurdle. Many have responded just as one would expect; by finding a way to survive their current conditions. This has lead to a set of antibiotic-resistant bacteria known as superbugs.

Enter the bacteriophages, which are viruses that only infect bacteria, and they may turn out to be our savior against the rise of antibiotic-resistant microbes.

A bacteriophage works by using a long tail to pierce a bacterium's cell membrane and inject their genetic material. From there, the bacterium stops producing bacterial components and instead produces the building blocks of the bacteriophage which infected it. Once enough bacteriophages have been reconstructed they explode out of the bacterium in a process known as lysis.

Check out the video below from Kurzgesagt to learn more about the deadly bacteriophage and why they may become integral in the field of medicine.

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