Wake Up and Die: Activating Dormant Bacteria to Kill Them

From Scientific American:

Bacteria Israeli researchers announced this week that they have developed a new technique that may wipe out stubborn bacteria that elude antibiotics. Some infections such as tuberculosis (TB) can lay dormant in the lungs for decades before reactivating and causing symptoms— even after most of the disease-causing bacteria have been leveled by antibiotics.

But scientists at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem report in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA that they discovered a way to eradicate the stubborn bugs and prevent them from suddenly striking again when an individual’s immune system is off guard. The new method capitalizes on the dormant bacteria’s need for nutrients such as iron and magnesium. Such cells can avoid antibiotics when they’re starved and become inactive. But the researchers were able to reduce populations of persistent bacteria by up to 99 percent by first perking them up with nutrients and then blasting them with an antibiotic.

More here.