Cell walls—the jacket-like structures that surround all known bacteria—may turn out to be bacteria's undoing , holding the key to developing new drugs that target it for destruction. Pires, a biochemist at Lehigh University, is spearheading a novel approach to understanding bacterial cell wall changes in response to antibiotics that could be critical to new drug design—an urgent need in light of the growing threat of antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacterial cells adapt to evade a drug designed to kill it. Making changes to the cell wall is one way bacteria accomplish this. Little is known, however, about just how these structures respond when under attack.


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