Bacterial resistance to drugs is an ever-growing concern, with super-strong, possibly impervious bacteria expected to kill as many as 10 million people a year by 2050. The race between our drugs and bacteria is already well underway. Thankfully, we may have just gotten a leg up in that race for our lives.
That leg up is the Microbial Evolution and Growth Arena plate, or MEGA-plate. While it's basically an oversized petri dish, the MEGA-plate allows researchers to watch bacteria evolve and adapt to drugs in real time. As the video shows, the MEGA-plate is divided into sections of increasing amounts of drugs. Mutations occur and the bacteria break through to the next section of drugs. It's beautiful to watch — but also horrifying.
There is hope, however. Because of the MEGA-plate's sectional design, researchers can gather samples from each section, sequence the DNA and track the changes in the bacteria's mutations across the plates. As The Atlantic explains, they can see which strains respond, which ones don't and why. The MEGA-plate may end up being a mega advantage as we try and keep bacterial infections in check.