Tech News Summary:
- Graduate student Tong Zhang has been studying how bacteria protect themselves against phages, the viruses that infect them.
- During her research, Zhang discovered that the capsid protein that coats the outside of the phage directly triggers the activation of a toxin-antitoxin system called CapRel.
- Zhang is currently working on her next project with “interesting data” already available, and is considered a dedicated and hardworking student by her peers.
MIT scientists are embarking on a new journey to explore the world of phages, a group of viruses that target and infect bacteria. Bacteriophages have the potential to be used as alternatives to antibiotics as they can specifically target and eliminate harmful bacteria while leaving beneficial bacteria unharmed.
This exciting research is being led by Dr. Catherine Freije and her team. They have set out to study bacteriophages in uncharted territories to uncover new strains and uses for these viruses. The team is collecting samples from various environments such as soil, water, and human beings to identify phages with unique characteristics and capabilities.
One of the challenges that the team faces is that many of the phages they are studying have not been documented before. This means that they are working with limited information, and they must rely heavily on their expertise and intuition. They are also using cutting-edge techniques such as metagenomics to analyze large amounts of data and identify the genetic makeup of the phages they find.
The study of phages is gaining more attention due to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which has become a major threat to public health worldwide. The World Health Organization has listed antibiotic resistance as one of the top 10 global public health threats facing humanity.
This MIT research represents a significant step forward in the fight against antibiotic resistance. By discovering new phages, researchers may be able to develop more effective treatments for bacterial infections that are resistant to antibiotics.
Dr. Freije and her team are excited about the potential of their research and the impact it could have on public health. They believe that bacteriophages have the potential to revolutionize the field of medicine and provide a viable alternative to antibiotics.
As the team explores the world of phages, they hope to uncover new insights into the microbial world and develop innovative approaches to treating bacterial infections. Their work represents a major milestone in the field of microbiology and has the potential to save countless lives.