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Nati Harni / AP

Scientists are re-exploring "phage therapy," the use of viruses to kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria, according to The Washington Post.

Why it matters: Antibiotic resistant bacteria pose one of the biggest threats to human health, according to the World Health Organization. Bacteriophage therapy could be another option as resistance to existing antibiotics grows because of the large number of phages on Earth (in excess of 10 million trillion trillion), each likely to target a different species of bacteria.

How it works: Bacteriophages kill specific bacteria by entering the cells and causing them to burst. To figure out which bacteria are being targeted, researchers take a sample from a patient, grow them with phages and see which cells they kill. They then grow that phage in large batches, purify it and administer it to the patient. The process takes five to 10 days, however scientists believe they will be able to shorten that time frame. The approach hasn't been approved for general use in people but WaPo says most scientists believe they are safe, in part because we are exposed to them daily, and the therapy has been used in a handful of emergency situations.

Go deeper

13 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 15 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.