USDA Scientists Look for Alternatives to Antibiotics

As restrictions on the use of antibiotics in animals increase – USDA recognizes the need to accelerate the quest for alternatives. Scientists with the Department’s Agricultural Research Service are working to provide new strategies for enhancing production and improving overall animal health. They have developed a method to create antimicrobials that kill disease-causing pathogens.

According to USDA – enzymes produced by viruses that infect bacteria have been shown to be effective in killing pathogens like MRSA. A USDA molecular biologist – in collaboration with industry, university and federal scientists – demonstrated how these enzymes have molecular domains that can be isolated and will act independently of their protein surroundings. Because the enzymes can be manipulated to create an antimicrobial that targets and kills specific pathogens – the probability that non-targeted bacteria will develop resistance is greatly reduced.


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