Much like human cells, bacteria are susceptible to fatal viral infections. These bacterial viruses (bacteriophages, i.e phages) have gained significant attention in recent years as one of the most promising alternatives to antibiotics to tackle the emerging problem of drug-resistant bacteria.
However, just like our cells have immune systems aimed at eliminating viral infections, bacteria possess powerful phage defense systems which greatly reduce the efficacy of therapy using phages. Likewise, phages evolved mechanisms to escape these bacterial defenses resulting in the numerous anti-defense systems widespread across phage families.
Our lab’s main goal is to discover these bacterial defense systems, understand their composition and viral triggers as well as identifying phage mechanisms to evade them. Driving this goal is the desire to combat phage resistance mechanisms to make bacteria more susceptible to phage predation. In other words, we want to tilt the scale of the phage-bacterial warfare towards the phage by disabling the bacterial immunity.