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Microbial Vampires Shrink from Light

07:07 EDT 2 Aug 2017 | Genetic Engineering News

They have a taste for our blood, particularly the iron it contains, and they can leave us sickened, weakened, even dead. They are Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, and their depredations are linked with up to 50,000 deaths each year in the United States. Should these microbial vampires resist antibiotics, as they often do when they manifest as hospital-acquired infections, they won’t be deterred by garlic, wolfsbane, or sacred objects. They may, however, be vulnerable to light—provided they are also exposed to an enzyme-activating small molecule. The small molecule, called ’882 for short, has been identified as a potential S. aureus killer by scientists based at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. So far, these scientists, led by Eric Skaar, Ph.D., have evaluated ’882 in mouse models of skin and soft tissue infections. The results have been encouraging. In combination with light, the small molecule can reduce bacterial ...

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