Biofilms, a slimy glue-like membrane that are produced by microbes in order to colonize surfaces. They can grow in animal and plant tissues, and even inside the human body. Biofilms protect microbes from the body’s immune system and increase their resistance to antibiotics.
Biofilms represent one of the biggest threats to patients in hospital settings. Now, researchers developed a novel enzyme technology to prevents the formation of biofilms.
Biofilm associated infections are responsible for thousands of deaths across North America every year. They are hard to remove because they secrete a matrix made of sugar molecules which form a kind of armour that acts as a physical and chemical barrier, preventing antibiotics from reaching their target sites within microbes.
“We were able to use the microbe’s own tools against them to attack and destroy the sugar molecules that hold the biofilm together,” says, Dr. Don Sheppard from McGill University Health Centre. The new individual bullets attacking the biofilm that protects those microbes by literally tearing down the walls to expose the microbes living behind them.
Sheppard team focusing on two of the most common organisms responsible for lung infections. A bacterium called Pseudomonas aeruginosa and a fungus called Aspergillus fumigatus. Infections with these organisms in patients with chronic lung diseases like cystic fibrosis represent an enormous challenge in medical therapy.
While studying these organisms, the scientists discovered enzymes that cut up the sugar molecules, which glue biofilms together. Microbes use these enzymes to move sugar molecules around and cut them into pieces in order to build and remodel the biofilm matrix.
Previous attempts to deal with biofilms have had only limited success, mostly in preventing biofilm formation.
While, researchers applied the same enzymes to the fungi, it shows the same way on the fungi biofilm.
This approach could be a universal way of being able to leverage the microbes own systems for degrading biofilms. This has bigger implications across many microbes, diseases and infections.
More information: [bio Rxiv]