New discovery may help treat chronic infections

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Washington, Dec 20 (ANI): Scientists from Binghamton University and State University of New York have discovered key regulators required for the formation of biofilms - communities of bacteria in self-produced slime - which could lead to new ways for treating chronic infections.

These biofilms may be found almost anywhere that solids and liquids meet, whether in nature, in hospitals or in industrial settings.

It has been implicated in chronic inflammatory and infectious diseases such as ear infections, gastrointestinal ulcers, urinary tract infections and pulmonary infections in cystic fibrosis patients.

Biofilms are difficult to eradicate with conventional antimicrobial treatments since they can be nearly 1,500-fold more resistant to antibiotics than planktonic, free-floating cells.

In the new study, lead researcher Karin Sauer, associate professor of biology at Binghamton University, and graduate student Olga Petrova focussed their study on Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria and found key regulatory events required for the formation and development of biofilms.

It is considered one of the primary causes of death in patients with cystic fibrosis, a common and life-threatening hereditary disease.

"We have found a pathway of how the formation of biofilms is controlled," Sauer said.

"If we can figure out how to make use of this newly discovered genetic program, we can interfere with the formation of biofilms and either prevent or treat biofilm infections more successfully," Sauer added.

Sauer and her team recently identified a regulator that is only expressed in biofilms and which seems to be responsible for regulating antibiotic resistance.

"We can modulate the resistance of biofilms now by over-expressing or inactivating this particular regulator," she said.

"We hope to use these discoveries to treat infections by interfering with the way biofilms are growing and by reverting biofilms back to a state where they're more easily treatable," she added.

The study appears in PLoS Pathogens, a peer-reviewed, open-access journal published online by the Public Library of Science. (ANI)

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