Noninherited Resistance to Antibiotics

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Science  10 Sep 2004:
Vol. 305, Issue 5690, pp. 1578-1579
DOI: 10.1126/science.1103077

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Why is it that the rate of mortality of bacteria exposed to bactericidal antibiotics declines with time but sensitive cells survive for hours or even days of exposure? The mechanisms responsible for this persistence have perplexed microbiologists for decades. In his Perspective, Levin discusses a pair of recent studies ( Balaban et al., Miller et al.) that shed light on the mechanisms responsible for this phenomenon and the way in which these bacterial persisters emerge. Levin also considers the potential clinical implications of this non-inherited form of resistance to antibiotics.