Narrator: This is Science Today. Classic antibiotic therapy seeks to inhibit or kill bacteria, but over the years it's become apparent that they have a tremendous advantage in evolving ways to resist therapy. Dr. Victor Nizet of the University of California, San Diego's School of Medicine says that's because antibiotics put a life or death challenge on the bacteria.
Nizet: If it can evolve resistance to survive antibiotic killing, it will do so. Another way to approach antibiotic therapy is to figure out what is it about the disease-causing bacteria that distinguishes them from all the good citizen bacteria that live on our body every day without causing us problems. These things are known as virulence factors.
Narrator: Nizet and his colleagues have discovered a key mechanism in the emergence of a deadly strain of strep bacteria. Their goal is to eventually target this one virulence factor.
Nizet: An antibiotic that is a virulence factor-based therapy does not directly kill the bacteria, it just disarms the bacteria and our immune system does the killing.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.