Vampire Bacteria A Promising Living Antibiotic
Latest discovery by biologists in the University of Virginia’s College of Arts and Sciences is focused on the ability of a “vampire- like” bacterium to attack specific bacteria species as prey. This is a study by biologists Martin Wu and graduate student Zhang Wang which aims to find out the bacterium Micavibrio aeruginosavorus’ way of life.
This bacterium lives and survives by attaching itself to its victim and sucking out all its nutrients. One bacterium that it targets is the Pseudomonas aeruginosavorus, a cause of serious lung infections in patients with cystic fibrosis. Biologists explained that this “vampire” bacterium can be a promising cure to some illnesses serving as a living antibiotic.
Wu and his colleague used cutting edge genomic technology to decode the genome of M. aeruginosavorus. They studied the bacteria’s molecular mechanism that makes it hunt and leach for its living; understanding the way M. aeruginosavorus live can ultimately make new and better treatments to many diseases replacing traditional antibiotics use. This study is also timely considering many types of bacteria have developed resistance to a range of antibiotic treatments; most of these are due to the overuse of antibiotics. With the development of this study, the possibility of finding better cures for illnesses may not be too far away.
Aside from the way this bacterium lived and thrived, it can also swim and survive in viscous fluids. P. aeruginosavorus attacks the lung tissue and colonizes the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients with the development of a “glue-like” film or biofilm; this film makes it resistant to traditional antibiotic treatments. But when M. aeruginosavorus was used to attack this bacterium, the biofilm barrier was easily penetrated.
Further genetic engineering can make the M. aeruginosavorus a tailored living bacterium with amazing predatory attributes to fight certain diseases.