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Rethinking the antibiotic: disarm pathogens, don’t kill them

It may be time to re-think the antibiotic. Traditional antibiotics act by killing the infecting organism, much the way an army would seek to do to it’s enemies. But if an army could somehow disarm its foes, taking away every last weapon, wouldn’t that accomplish the same end? The authors of a study in mBio this week took a similar approach to treating infections: they allowed the invading bacteria to live, but disabled the toxin the bacteria use to attack the body, healing the disease even though the bacteria were still present in high numbers. The results may herald the dawn of a new type of antibiotic drugs – medicines that disarm pathogens but don’t kill them.

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