Scientists have called the extremophile bacterium Deinococcus radiodurans “a robust generalist” capable of persevering amid prolonged exposure to everything from toxic chemicals and corrosive acids to desiccating desert heat and subzero temperatures. Colonies of the bacteria have been found occupying the coolant water tanks of nuclear reactors and thriving on the weathered granite of Antarctica’s dry valleys. They have faced exposure to solar radiation and the vacuum of space onboard a European Space Agency satellite and have survived punishing simulations of life on Mars at the German Aerospace Center in Cologne.
Researchers believe that D. radiodurans could lead to the production of faster, cheaper, and safer vaccines, according to a recent article published by Gizmodo.
Details: In a study published by PLOS One in January, researchers at Uniformed Services University, a medical college in Bethesda, Md., run by the Pentagon, showed the results of their efforts to produce an inactivated polio vaccine.
At the core of the team’s new vaccine production method is a mechanism by which D. radiodurans protects itself from cosmic rays and other forms of ionizing radiation.