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Tomorrow Today

The hunt for new antibiotics

Bacteria that produce antibiotic substances are difficult to grow outside their natural environment. A team of microbiologists have invented a membrane device that helps overcome this problem, and have used it to develop 25 new antibiotics.

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Antibiotics are toxins that bacteria produce as a weapon against their competitors. But until now, it's been quite difficult to culture bacteria outside their natural environment. The Boston microbiologist discovered that capturing bacteria between two membranes and placing the device in the bacteria's natural environment encourages them to grow. Then they can be transferred to a Petri dish.