Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory are turning to supercomputers to help with a serious threat - the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. While we have the power to deal with many common bacterial threats, many factors including the overuse of antibiotics in people and agriculture have contributed to an increase in bacterial pathogens that have found ways to evade drug treatment.
A crucial cellular machine is used by some bacteria to get around the effects of antibiotics. So-called efflux pumps are used by gram-negative bacteria to remove toxins, including medicines, from the cell.
Supercomputers can now help us understand how efflux pumps work. If we can figure out how to stop these pumps from working, it would mean some old antibiotics that had been rendered powerless would be useful once again.