“A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine work”

Boston University researchers at the College of Engineering have discovered a way to target bacterial “persisters” so they could be killed by antibiotics. Biomedical engineering professor James Collins, a William F. Warren Distinguished Professor and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, reports in Nature magazine that he and his colleagues have discovered how adding a simple solution – sugar – “wakes up” these bacteria, which cause infections such as staph, strep and tuberculosis. Talking to the Boston Globe, Collins asked, “Could we wake these guys up? Could we…get them up off the ground so we can punch them and knock them out?”

Kyle Allison, a PhD who was the first author on the study, says “Our goal was to improve the effectiveness of existing antibiotics, rather than invent new ones, which can be a long and costly process.

For additional information on this new discovery, contact James Collins at 617-353-0390, jcollins@bu.edu