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We are in a constant arms race with the bacteria in and around our body. Even the good bacteria are only good because they are being restrained by our immune system. If they display dangerous behaviour, they are eaten by the cells of our immune system and brutally killed. They are drowned in hydrochloric acid, bleach, free radicals and ripped to pieces by more than twenty different enzymes.

So far, so good, however… Many bacteria have evolved to survive these attacks. Even worse: species like tuberculosis, the plague and leprosy hide in our immune cells and divide, procreate and use our immune system to grow. Even antibiotics – our last hope in this battle – do not work anymore. We are losing the arms race.

My research focusses on mapping these bacteria and our immune system. By better understanding these processes and finding leads, we hope to develop new antibiotics and make sure we humans are able to win the arms race.

CAN THE ARMS RACE WITH BACTERIA BE WON?
SANDER VAN KASTEREN
University Leiden

Our immune system is in a constant battle with the bacteria in and around our body. Good bacteria our restrained and bad bacteria are brutally killed. But more and more bacteria evolve to withstand these attacks, which causes us to lose the battle. Sander van Kasteren maps these bacteria and our immune system to find new leads for antibiotics.

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