The ability of microorganisms to overcome antibiotic treatments is one of the top concerns of modern medicine. The effectiveness of many antibiotics has been reduced by bacteria's ability to rapidly evolve and develop strategies to resist antibiotics. Bacteria achieve this by specific mechanisms that are tailored to the molecular structure or function of a particular antibiotic. For example, bacteria would typically develop drug resistance by evolving a mutation that breaks down the drug.
Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem set out to determine if they could predict a different evolutionary process and follow it in real time. Using the quantitative approach of physicists, the team developed experimental tools to measure precisely the bacterial response to antibiotics, and developed a mathematical model of the process. The model led them to hypothesize that a daily three-hour dose would enable the bacteria to predict delivery of the drug, and go dormant for that period in order to survive.
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