B.C. Biology Students Looking For New Ways to Kill Antibiotic-Resistant Superbug

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via CBC : B.C. biology students looking for new ways to kill antibiotic-resistant superbug

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Students at the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George are searching for new ways to kill an antibiotic-resistant superbug that’s been plaguing hospitals across North America. Methicillin-resistant staph aureus (MRSA) is a strain of staphyloccocus aureus, a bacteria that can reside on people’s skin and inside their nasal lining. It targets people with weakened immune systems, including those with HIV and AIDS, and can lead to pneumonia, blood infections and in some cases, death.

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Brendan Reiter is the co-president of the synthetic biology club along with Keanna Woidak. Reiter says that rather than trying to improve antibiotics, his group is going to take an entirely different approach.

“We’re going to use the same mechanism that they use to become resistant to the antibiotics but instead we’re going to try and kill them,” he explained.

He said the problem with antibiotics is that if even one bacteria is resistant, that resistance can spread, making the antibiotic useless.

“What we’re going to try and do is put a gene into these bacteria that when it’s transferred will kill them instead of making them resistant,” he said.

“As far as we know that hasn’t been done before.”

Reiter and his fellow club members are recruiting students from a variety of disciplines to help them prepare the project, which will be presented at the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition in Boston. They are specifically looking for math, physics, biology and biochemistry students, but they’ve already heard from someone in forestry who thinks he may know of a plant that could help.

Reiter said the inspiration to recruit more disciplines came from seeing teams at last year’s competition working with engineers, physicists and computer scientists.

“We’re looking to branch out a little bit, do a little bit of modeling, and just add that extra dimension to our project,” he said.

Source : CBC | B.C. Biology Students Looking For New Ways to Kill Antibiotic-Resistant Superbug

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