Keevil, a microbiology researcher on the University of Southampton (U.K.), has studied the antimicrobial effects of copper for more than twenty years. He has watched in his laboratory as the simple metal slew one unhealthy bug after another. He began with the bacteria that causes Legionnaire’s Disease and then turned to drug-resistant killer infections like Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). He examined viruses that brought on worldwide well being scares corresponding to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and the Swine Flu (H1N1) pandemic of 2009.
Viruses with plenty of genetic flexibility, and notably people who encode their genomes as RNA somewhat than DNA, are nicely-suited to crossing the species divide.
“The ‘genes’ that may respond to environmental triggers or poisonous pathogens are the dark side of the genome,” Perron says. Retroviruses, together with HIV, are identified to be awakened by inflammation—presumably the results of infection, cigarette smoke, or pollutants in …