- Not Exactly Rocket Science
Killing Sleeper Cells and Superbugs with Assassin Janitors
For years, scientists and science writers have been sounding loud alarms about drug-resistant bacteria that can shrug off our most potent antibiotics. They are hard to kill, and so kill us with greater ease. These superbugs are undeniably worrying but they’re only part of the problem—it is entirely possible for bacteria to defy antibiotics without actually resisting them.
All of our antibiotics are designed to kill fast-growing microbes. Bacteria can weather these assaults by entering a dormant state, and waiting until the drugs have worn off. These sleeper cells are called persisters. They’re the reason why bacteria sometimes cause long-lasting infections that repeatedly bounce back despite our best attempts to treat them. Each wave of drugs wipes out