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ahuReddit34 karma

So.. biofilms! From what I understand, many bacteria that cause us problems do so because they form biofilms. Somehow these function as a shield against our immune systems & medicines. This makes me wonder, were biofilms a somewhat recent evolutionary development? Or are they in some way something our immune systems can't touch because they are 'out of their league'? Do you think disrupting biofilm formation might be something that comes to human antibiotic medicine soon?

ahuReddit30 karma

(@powerdns_bert here) So I will get my question in early :-) With the COVID-19 pandemic, we've seen how powerful our techniques are for figuring out how viruses work, how they interact with cells and how we could block them. See the stunning success against hepatitis C. If we look at the relatively small genomes of bacteria, which are also rather well documented, would it not be possible to invent like "thousands" of new antibiotics that get transported into bacteria (because they look like things that bacteria would import) and that also block vital processes within these bacteria? And hopefully leave us alone of course. I realize nothing is simple of course, but if I see what we are throwing at COVID-19, it feels like we could have found several new antibiotics alone this year if we did the same thing for bacteria!

ahuReddit26 karma

I note that we very often prescribe exactly one antibiotic at a time against bacterial infections. However, for viruses we have learned to use 3 so they don't evolve resistance. Why don't we do this for bacteria then, is there a fundamental reason? Thanks!

ahuReddit21 karma

It may also be interesting to note that antibiotic resistance often comes at a cost to bacteria. In research I was involved with ("Density-dependent adaptive resistance allows swimming bacteria to colonize an antibiotic gradient.") we found that a bacterium became resistant by shutting down a whole gene it would otherwise have used for things. So even though we are educating bacteria on how to resist certain antibiotics, once we stop using those, such resistance will also ebb. But the memory remains and as Willem notes, bacteria do exchange DNA a lot, so resistance might spring back relatively quickly.

ahuReddit16 karma

Hi! Congratulations for smashing your performance requirements! As a European this makes me proud too :-) But, my question - given this stunning accuracy, do you think there is an opportunity to extract interesting physics from the mission? New constraints on general relativity for example? I know gravitational waves can't be seen at this scale, but you still possess the most precise accelerometer in the world now! Thanks!