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Popular Science

MIT researchers have created a new filter from tree branches that could provide an inexpensive, biodegradable, low-tech option for water purification, writes Shaena Montanari for Popular Science. “We hope that our work empowers such people to further develop and commercialize xylem water filters tailored to local needs to benefit communities around the world,” says Prof. Rohit Karnik.

New Scientist

New Scientist reporter Layal Liverpool writes that a new study co-authored by MIT researchers finds that “synthetic cells made by combining components of Mycoplasma bacteria with a chemically synthesised genome can grow and divide into cells of uniform shape and size, just like most natural bacterial cells.”

Smithsonian Magazine

Smithsonian reporter Theresa Machemer writes that a new study by MIT researchers shows that C. elegans are able to sense and avoid the color blue.

New York Times

A new study by MIT researchers investigates how roundworms are able to sense the color blue to avoid dangerous bacteria that secrete toxins, reports Veronique Greenwood for The New York Times. Greenwood found that “some roundworms respond clearly to that distinctive pigment, perceiving it — and fleeing from it — without the benefit of any known visual system.”

Boston 25 News

Prof. James Collins speaks with Boston 25 reporter Julianne Lima about the growing issue of antibiotic resistant bacteria and his work using AI to identify new antibiotics. Collins explains that a new platform he developed with Prof. Regina Barzilay uncovered “a host of new antibiotics including one that we call halicin that has remarkable activity against multi drug-resistant pathogens.”

SciDevNet

A study by researchers from MIT’s Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) finds antibiotic resistance in some types of bacteria may be reversed using hydrogen sulphide, reports Melanie Sison for SciDevNet. “This is a very exciting discovery because we are the first to show that H2S can, in fact, improve sensitivity to antibiotics and even reverse antibiotic resistance in bacteria that do not naturally produce the agent,” says Wilfried Moreira, a principal investigator at SMART.

Health Europa

Researchers from the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology have “discovered a way to increase antimicrobial sensitivity in bacteria by exposing them to hydrogen sulphide (H2S),” reports Health Europa.

Forbes

Forbes reporter Amy Feldman spotlights MIT startup Ginkgo Bioworks, which aims to “design, modify and manufacture organisms to make existing industrial processes cheaper and entirely new processes possible.” Feldman notes that the promise of synthetic biology is “not just a proliferation of new products, but also a reduction of the environmental harm that comes from our heavy reliance on petrochemicals.”

Scientific American

Diana Kwon highlights the research of Prof. Katharina Ribbeck in an article for Scientific American about the biological benefits of mucus. “I like to call [mucus] the unsung hero of the body — it’s something that has such powerful effects over our health,” says Ribbeck.

Xinhuanet

Xinhua reports that MIT researchers have “discovered that lung tumors could hijack bacteria within the lung to promote their own survival.” As Tyler Jacks, director of the Koch Institute and the paper’s senior author explains, this research "opens up multiple potential avenues toward lung cancer interception and treatment.”

Forbes

Writing for Forbes, Jeff Kart highlights how MIT researchers have developed a new technique to process samples of bacteria and gauge whether the bacteria can produce electricity. “The vision is to harness the most-powerful bacteria for tasks like running fuel cells or purifying sewage water,” Kart explains.

Guardian

Guardian reporter Ian Sample writes that MIT startup Synlogic are developing a “living” medicine” made from genetically modified bugs. “By engineering these bacteria, we are able to control how they operate in the human gastrointestinal tract,” says Caroline Kurtz of Synlogic. “It allows us to think about many other diseases where you may need to produce something beneficial, or remove something that is toxic for the patient.”

Guardian

MIT researchers have engineered wasp venom to kill bacteria, reports Chukwuma Muanya for The Guardian. The researchers found that the altered peptides wiped out the antibiotic-resistant bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa within four days.

Forbes

Forbes reporter Fiona McMillan writes that MIT researchers have engineered an anti-bacterial peptide found in wasp venom in an effort to create a new antibiotic. McMillan writes that the researchers, “gained new insight into which structural attributes work best, either alone or in combination. In this way, they were able to tweak the peptide’s structure to obtain optimal function.”

Xinhuanet

MIT researchers have repurposed the toxic venom found in wasps to create a new drug that could potentially be used to kill bacteria, reports the Xinhua news agency. “The venom-derived peptide is believed to kill microbes by disrupting bacterial cell membranes,” Xinhua explains.