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To Stop Evolution: New Way Of Fighting Antibiotic Resistance Demonstrated By Scripps Scientists

ge persists, the cell upregulates recombination enzymes, which are tasked with recombining the DNA -- another way to repair it. And, says Romesberg, if the damage still persists, the cells upregulate enzymes whose sole task is to make mutations.

Presumably, inducing mutations is an effective evolutionary strategy for dealing with environmental changes that maximize the chances that a progeny cell will be better adapted. In order to evolve, organisms have to mutate, so they turn on the mutation process when they are threatened with extinction.

Romesberg reasoned that since mutations can be turned on full-force, perhaps they could be shut off as well. Doing so, he says, would put a halt to evolution -- an interesting prospect because the mutations responsible for evolution are the underlying causes of cancer and aging as well.

"Evolution is not an unstoppable force," says Romesberg. "There is a biochemistry underlying it and it is subject to intervention."

The Scourge of Antibiotic Resistance

One thing that scientists would like to change about bacteria and cancer cells is their changeability.

At the dawn of the 20th century, bacterial infections accounted for several of the leading causes of death in the United States. But then came the antibiotic revolution. Antibiotic "wonder drugs" toppled tuberculosis (TB) and typhoid fever, controlled cholera and gonorrhea, reduced staphylococcal dysentery, and lowered the incidence of many other pandemic bacterial infections. These antibiotics are basically natural chemicals (or derivatives of natural chemicals) produced by other bacteria or fungi in the environment to kill off the competition. Scientists in the last century have discovered a number of these natural "antibiotic" products and have used them as the basis for treating bacterial infections.

By the middle of the century, the threat posed by many types of bacteria seemed to be waning. Bacterial infections that o
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Source:Scripps Research Institute


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