COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - Researchers at Texas A&M recently received grant funding that will help them study ways to neutralize antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The research involved viruses called phages that are used to disarm bacteria instead of kill them. Dr. Lanying Zeng and her team are looking at how they can suppress parts of certain bacteria that help them reproduce.

”Suppose you can just disarm them, right? You kind of just cut off their tool, and then they become harmless,” Zeng said. “That’s the uniqueness of our method.”

These phages infect the bacteria through the bacteria’s long appendages called pili. The specific pili that the phages target are what help the bacteria mate and reproduce. When the bacteria is infected by this particular virus, the pili essentially become detached from the cell surface.