While we desperately wage war against bacteria by developing new varieties of antibiotics, there’s at least SOME good news: some types of bacteria wage a kind of "civil war" against EACH OTHER. There are predators in the bacterial world that consume other bacteria, much as predators attack prey in the animal world. Some of these predator microbes might be put to work against disease-causing bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics. Biologist Daniel Kadouri says that his team focused on two bacteria that were chosen because they are true predators. He says, "They actually have to consume other bacteria in order to complete their life cycles. They have a great ability to seek out other bacteria, invade them, grow in or on them, and kill them."
Kadouri hopes that one day medical practitioners can use these predator bacteria to supplement antibiotic drugs in treating life-threatening infections. "We have been living with bacteria all our lives," he says. "There are bacteria in and on us, and they are a part of our ecology. When we eat yogurt and cheese, for example, we are eating bacteria." The predator bacteria he is examining are among the many bacteria in our environment that are considered harmless to humans. A big unknown at the moment is whether predator bacteria can have the same effect on harmful microbes inside the human body as they do in the lab. It is possible that the human immune system would neutralize these bacteria before they could do their beneficial work. But if that problem can be avoided, or solved, Kadouri is confident that a new disease-fighting tool may one day be put into use.
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