Nicholas Taylor says: Not only humans have viruses that can attack them but also bacteria are under constant attack by viruses, which are known as bacteriophages. In fact, bacteriophages are the most abundant biological units on the planet. Since bacteriophages can kill bacterial cells, they have been used as an alternative to antibiotic therapies to treat bacterial diseases in humans.
It has quite recently been discovered that, like humans, bacteria also have immune systems that protect them against their viruses. How this occurs is however much more poorly understood. I plan to investigate this by looking with very advanced microscopes at these systems and trying to unravel how they work at the molecular level. Furthermore, we will take the first steps to try to make novel applications based on the fundamental mechanisms that we discover, which could ultimately lead to novel application in biomedicine or biotechnology.
Nicholas Taylor is Associate Professor and Group Leader at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.