Nav: Home

Bacterial biofilms, begone

July 31, 2017

FORT COLLINS, COLORADO - By some estimates, bacterial strains resistant to antibiotics ­- so-called superbugs - will cause more deaths than cancer by 2050.

Colorado State University biomedical and chemistry researchers are using creative tactics to subvert these superbugs and their mechanisms of invasion. In particular, they're devising new ways to keep harmful bacteria from forming sticky matrices called biofilms - and to do it without antibiotic drugs.

Researchers from the laboratory of Melissa Reynolds, associate professor of chemistry and the School of Biomedical Engineering, have created a new material that inhibits biofilm formation of the virulent superbug Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Their material, described in Advanced Functional Materials, could form the basis for a new kind of antibacterial surface that prevents infections and reduces our reliance on antibiotics.

Bella Neufeld, the first author and graduate student who led the research, explained that her passion for finding new ways to fight superbugs is motivated by how adaptive and impenetrable they are, especially when they are allowed to form biofilms.

"Biofilms are nasty once they form, and incredibly difficult to get rid of," Neufeld said.

Many people picture bacteria and other microorganisms in their friendlier, free-floating state - like plankton swimming in a high school petri dish. But when bacteria are able to attach to a surface and form a biofilm, they become stronger and more resistant to normal drugs.

In a classic example, cystic fibrosis patients are sickened by hordes of P. aeruginosa bacteria forming a sticky film on the endothelial cells of the patients' lungs. Once those bacteria attach, drugs won't kill them.

Or, a wound can become infected with a bacterial biofilm, making it more difficult for that wound to heal.

Reynolds' research group makes biocompatible devices and materials that resist infection and won't be rejected by the body. In this most recent work, they've designed a material with inherent properties that keep a bacterial film from forming in the first place.

In the lab, they demonstrated an 85 percent reduction in P. aeruginosa biofilm adhesion. They conducted extensive studies showing the reusability of their film. This indicated that its antibacterial properties are driven by something inherent in the material, so its efficacy wouldn't fade in a clinical setting.

They used a material they've worked with before for other antimicrobial applications, a copper-based metal-organic framework that's stable in water. They embedded the copper metal-organic framework within a matrix of chitosan, a material derived from the polysaccharide chitin, which makes up insect wings and shrimp shells. Chitosan is already widely used as a wound dressing and hemostatic agent.

Neufeld says the new biomaterial could form new avenues for antibacterial surfaces. For example, the material could be used for a wound dressing that, instead of gauze, would be made of the chitosan matrix.

The research combined expertise in materials synthesis and biological testing. Co-authors with Neufeld and Reynolds were CSU graduate students Megan Neufeld (no relation) and Alec Lutzke; and Lawrence University undergraduate student Sarah Schweickart.
-end-


Colorado State University

Related Bacteria Articles:

Bacteria might help other bacteria to tolerate antibiotics better
A new paper by the Dynamical Systems Biology lab at UPF shows that the response by bacteria to antibiotics may depend on other species of bacteria they live with, in such a way that some bacteria may make others more tolerant to antibiotics.
Two-faced bacteria
The gut microbiome, which is a collection of numerous beneficial bacteria species, is key to our overall well-being and good health.
Microcensus in bacteria
Bacillus subtilis can determine proportions of different groups within a mixed population.
Right beneath the skin we all have the same bacteria
In the dermis skin layer, the same bacteria are found across age and gender.
Bacteria must be 'stressed out' to divide
Bacterial cell division is controlled by both enzymatic activity and mechanical forces, which work together to control its timing and location, a new study from EPFL finds.
How bees live with bacteria
More than 90 percent of all bee species are not organized in colonies, but fight their way through life alone.
The bacteria building your baby
Australian researchers have laid to rest a longstanding controversy: is the womb sterile?
Hopping bacteria
Scientists have long known that key models of bacterial movement in real-world conditions are flawed.
Bacteria uses viral weapon against other bacteria
Bacterial cells use both a virus -- traditionally thought to be an enemy -- and a prehistoric viral protein to kill other bacteria that competes with it for food according to an international team of researchers who believe this has potential implications for future infectious disease treatment.
Drug diversity in bacteria
Bacteria produce a cocktail of various bioactive natural products in order to survive in hostile environments with competing (micro)organisms.
More Bacteria News and Bacteria Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.