A Real-Life Doctor Who Dalek Helped Scientists Exterminate Superbugs

Thursday, 09 June 2016 - 3:03PM
Weird Science
Medical Tech
Thursday, 09 June 2016 - 3:03PM
A Real-Life Doctor Who Dalek Helped Scientists Exterminate Superbugs
Daleks aren't known for their magnanimity towards the human race, but it looks like one of them just unwittingly helped us save some lives. Scientists are currently using a Dalek in the BBC to eliminate exterminate antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which could help us avoid a superbug apocalypse.

In the age of antibiotics, medical researchers have been increasingly concerned that bacteria will continue to evolve until there are "super" strains that are completely resistant to antibiotics. The process is already happening, as a matter of fact, and a recent report warned that diseases borne of antibiotic-resistant bugs could kill 10 million people a year by 2050. 

Opening quote
"Now we face this incredible medical crisis," said Radio 4's Inside Science presenter Dr Adam Rutherford. "We have run out of antibiotics that work. So a project led by a guy called Adam Roberts at University College London called 'Swab and Send' is asking people to swab their everyday environment, get hold of bacteria in their homes, and send them in – just in case they contain new antibiotics that could be developed."
Closing quote


For this project, Rutherford collected bacteria samples all around the BBC building, including from the eyestalk of the Dalek in the lobby. And for whatever reason (probably because people are disobeying the "Do not touch the Dalek" sign), there were not one, but four potentially useful colonies of bacteria on the eyestalk that could lead to four new and different antibiotics.

Opening quote
"We've got at least three different types of bacteria from the Dalek that were able to 'exterminate' our Micrococcus indicator strain," said Roberts.
Closing quote
Science
Science of Sci-Fi
Weird Science
Medical Tech

Load Comments