Further analysis proved to be even more remarkable. Lurking in the dank sample of cave mud she collected was a virus previously unknown to science — a bacteriophage that attacks bacteria from the same family as those that cause tuberculosis.
In other words, despite the usual connotation associated with the discovery of a virus, this virus is not harmful to humans. Rather, just the opposite: it is a virus that attacks bacterial strains that could be harmful to humans. The discovery has prompted the adventurous young Czyszczon to look ahead in her career; she has already received grant money to probe into the DNA of the virus to help find alternative cures for debilitating diseases like tuberculosis.
“We’re looking at an alternative medicine, basically,” she said. “Some strains of tuberculosis are getting resistant to antibiotics. So maybe this leads, in some way, to other treatments.”
Story: Bryan Nelson, Mother Nature Network | Photo: KellyB.