University of Tartu Researcher Receives Prestigious ERC Starting Grant to Study the Arms Race Between Bacteria and Bacteriophage

The two-way defense mechanisms of bacteria and phages, can offer a solution to antibiotic resistance problems. Hedvig Tamman, PhD, Associate Professor of Genetics at the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Tartu (Estonia), received the Starting Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) to study the microbial arms race. Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem in the treatment of infectious diseases caused by bacteria. Bacteria-attacking viruses can offer new solutions, for example, for developing antibiotics and their additives. The prospect of using phages in the fight against pathogenic bacteria has long been recognized, but their very high specificity and unpredictable reproduction have limited their wider use in medicine. Dr. Tamman’s study bridges several gaps in the research on bacteria, phages, and their interaction. “As bacteria and phages have co-evolved since the beginning of time, there is a kind of arms race between them – phages develop a mechanism to overcome all the bacterial defense systems,” said Dr. Tamman.
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