New technique could prevent dangerous biofilms on catheters

November 17, 2015

Biofilms frequently coat the surfaces of catheters, and of various medical implants and prostheses, where they can cause life-threatening infections. New research at the Sahlgrenska Academy show that coating implants with a certain "activator" can prevent Staphylococcus aureus, the leading cause of hospital-acquired infections, from forming biofilms.

Biofilms are mats of bacteria similar to the plaque that grows on teeth. Biofilms frequently coat the surfaces of catheters, and of various medical implants and prostheses, where they can threaten lives or lead to failure of the implants.

Antibiotics are impotent against biofilms. Now Gothenburg researchers Jakub Kwiecinski, Tao Jin and collaborators show that coating implants with "tissue plasminogen activator" can prevent Staphylococcus aureus, the leading cause of hospital-acquired infections, from forming biofilms.

Hijacks the system

A growing biofilm requires anchoring, and in earlier research, this team, led by Jin, an Associate Professor of Rheumatology and Inflammation Research, the University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden, had discovered that S. aureus hijacks the human clotting system to create a scaffold of micro-clots to support the growing biofilm.

"We hypothesized that if we forced the human body to start dissolving those clots, we could prevent the biofilm from developing," said Kwiecinski, a post-doctoral researcher in Jin's laboratory.

Clot-dissolving protein

To encouraging the clot-busting, the investigators coated the surfaces with tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), which activates the clot-dissolving protein, plasminogen.

"This deprives S. aureus of a scaffold for biofilm formation and prevents infection," said Kwiecinski. After performing the research under laboratory conditions, they confirmed that it works by coating catheters that they then implanted into laboratory mice.

Looking beyond bacteria

A key to the team's success was their decision to look beyond the bacteria, the stopping place for most previous research, to the human body's involvement in the infections, said Kwiecinski. The clot-busting, he said, could be applied to biofilms of pathogens other than S. aureus.

Biofilm-related infections afflict around 1.7 million in the US alone, killing nearly 100,000 annually, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. "With increasing numbers of prosthetic devices used in modern medicine, this number is only going to increase," said Kwiecinski. Thus, the research could lead to a major reduction in hospital-acquired disease and death.
-end-


University of Gothenburg

Related Biofilms Articles from Brightsurf:

Mechanical forces of biofilms could play role in infections
Studying bacterial biofilms, EPFL scientists have discovered that mechanical forces within them are sufficient to deform the soft material they grow on, e.g. biological tissues, suggesting a ''mechanical'' mode of bacterial infection.

Magnetic 'T-Budbots' made from tea plants kill and clean biofilms (video)
Biofilms -- microbial communities that form slimy layers on surfaces -- are difficult to treat and remove, often because the microbes release molecules that block the entry of antibiotics and other therapies.

Targeting bacterial biofilm lynchpin prevents, treats recalcitrant biofilm-mediated infections
A new study highlights two approaches with substantive efficacy and potential for broad application to combat biofilm-mediated diseases.

Harmful microbes found on sewer pipe walls
Can antibiotic-resistant bacteria escape from sewers into waterways and cause a disease outbreak?

Washing away stubborn biofilms using fungal cleaning products
Growing inside pipes and on the surfaces of medical devices, bacterial biofilms cause major headaches for the food processing industry and healthcare professionals alike.

New drug formulation could treat Candida infections
With antimicrobial resistance (AMR) increasing around the world, new research led by the University of Bristol has shown a new drug formulation could possibly be used in antifungal treatments against Candida infections.

Mechanical forces shape bacterial biofilms' puzzling patterns
Belying their slimy natures, the sticky patches of bacteria called biofilms often form intricate, starburst-like patterns as they grow.

Bacteria form biofilms like settlers form cities
Biofilms are composed of bacteria living in a densely packed and organized community.

New immunotherapeutic strategy shows promise in eradicating infectious biofilms
The same way baking soda breaks down grease and grime, making surfaces easier to clean, researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University now show that a new therapeutic molecule can break apart communities of harmful bacteria, opening the way for bacteria-killing antibiotics to more effectively clear out infections.

Study shines light on spread of Candida auris
Candida auris is capable of forming high burden biofilms, which may help explain why this fungal pathogen is spreading in hospitals worldwide, according to a study published this week in mSphere, an open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

Read More: Biofilms News and Biofilms Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.