Researchers have uncovered a new way that some bacteria survive when under siege by antibiotics.
This survival mechanism is fundamentally different from other known bacterial strategies. Understanding it may be useful for designing drugs that target hard-to-treat bacterial strains such as drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB), an increasingly urgent public health problem. The study is based on Mycobacterium smegmatis—a cousin of the microbe that causes TB—and its response to the TB drug isoniazid.
In the culture of research science, there’s a focus on the frontier, a premium on solving unsolved problems. But Paul Anastas, known as the father of green chemistry, urged scientists in a presentation at AAAS to revisit old problems and re-solve them in cleaner, more efficient ways.
Across science, in areas ranging from agriculture to light-bulb design and pharmaceutical development, science-driven improvements conceived in past decades often have come with high cost to the environment and sometimes human health, Anastas said.