Janice Haney Carr / CDC

Chemists have figured out a way to get through the thick outer membrane found in some bacteria, which they say could lead to new antibiotics for drug-resistant infections.

Why it matters: Drug-resistant bacteria pose a serious global health threat. In the U.S. alone, an estimated 23,000 people die each year from infections that can't be fought with existing antibiotics. E.Coli, acetinobacter that can be picked up in hospitals, and other types of bacteria with a tough outer membrane are becoming increasingly resistant to drugs. Efforts to create new antibiotics have come up short because they can't get into the cell.

How it works: Chemists at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign tested 180 different compounds that could penetrate E. Coli and figured out what features allowed some to make it through the cell membrane. Using those attributes, they then modified a natural compound that works on the other class of bacteria (without an outer membrane) and found it could then penetrate both types of microbes.

What's next: Getting in is step one — a compound would also have to kill the bug. The researchers point out that the compound itself may not work for treatment but that they now have a list of features that they hope can guide discovery and development of new drugs.

Go deeper

Mayors plan multifront attack on census shutdown

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A growing number of mayors are banding together to fight what they consider to be an inaccurate and abruptly curtailed 2020 census, using an arsenal of legal, legislative and congressional efforts.

Why it matters: The outcome may determine whether President Trump or Joe Biden controls the redistricting process, which governs everything from congressional representation and redistricting to funding for schools and Head Start.

Moderator Kristen Welker will not control mics during final presidential debate

President Trump and Joe Biden at the first presidential debate in September. Photo: Scott Olson via Getty Images

A producer from the Commission on Presidential Debates will manage the operation of the candidates' microphones during Thursday's final presidential debate — not the event's moderator, NBC's Kristen Welker — a source with knowledge of the event told Axios.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Alexi McCammond: Given President Trump's accusations of partisanship against the other debates' moderators, it makes sense that Welker would want to steer clear of any such optics during her stint in the chair.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Chris Christie: Wear a mask "or you may regret it — as I did" — Senate Democrats block vote on McConnell's targeted relief bill.
  2. Business: New state unemployment filings fall.
  3. Economy: Why the stimulus delay isn't a crisis (yet).
  4. Health: Many U.S. deaths were avoidable — The pandemic is getting worse again.
  5. Education: Boston and Chicago send students back home for online learning.
  6. World: Spain and France exceed 1 million cases.