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Broad Range Antibiotic Development
Scientists have been researching the methods of bacteriophages, viruses that attack bacteria, to develop new antibiotics. A new broad range antibiotic, developed jointly by scientists at The Rockefeller University and Astex Pharmaceuticals, has been found to kill a wide range of bacteria, including drug-resistant Staphylococcus (MRSA), in mice. The antibiotic, Epimerox, targets weaknesses in bacteria that have long been exploited by viruses that attack them and has even been shown to protect animals from fatal infection by Bacillus anthracis, the bacteria that causes anthrax.
"For a billion years, phages repeatedly have infected populations of bacteria, and during this period of time they have identified weaknesses in the bacterial armor," says senior author Vincent A. Fischetti, professor and head of the Laboratory of Bacterial Pathogenesis and Immunology. "We’re taking advantage of what phage have ‘learned’ during this period for us to identify new antibiotic targets that we believe will escape the problem of resistance found for other antibiotics."