How Bacteria “Talk” & Why They Make us Sick

A researcher recently discovered that bacteria can communicate with each other and they do it via small chemicals that they pass into their surroundings.  This researcher also found that the bacteria’s simple existence in our bodies is not what make us sick (unlike viruses).  There is something that the bacteria do, a biological process / “mechanism,” that is responsible for making us sick;  however that mechanism is usually off.  In fact, the mechanism is only turned on if the bacteria find, via their chemical communication, that there are a lot of them in a small space; otherwise they just exist without turning on the mechanisms that make us sick.  Thus, this researcher is working on a new type of antibiotic that wont be affected by the resistance bacteria have built up to classical antibiotics.  This new antibiotic will work by stopping the chemical communication between bacteria until the body can kill off the bacteria.  The researcher’s name is Bonnie Bassler,  a Professor at Princeton, and she gives a great talk about this on that can be understood by anyone.  Here is the link if you want to see it or it is also on YouTube.

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