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Efflux pump

Pumping Out Antibiotics

Infections caused by drug-resistant bacteria cause 23,000 deaths a year in the U.S. alone. One defense mechanism used by bacteria are called efflux pumps. Positioned in bacterial membranes, these pumps continuously expel antibiotics out of the bacterial cell—before they can kill the bacteria. WHOI researchers Tracy Mincer and Kristen Whalen are exploring microbes in the ocean that may produce undiscovered chemical compounds that could be developed into efflux pumps inhibitors and/or new antiobiotics. Another project is investigating marine bacterial compounds for therapies to treat cystic fibrosis. (Illustration by Eric S. Taylor, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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