Sunday, June 25, 2017

Making Biofilms Dead May Keep You Alive in Hospital #Science

The fungus Aspergillus fumigatus (in red) produces a sticky sugar molecule (in green) to make a biofilm that is important for its virulence. It covers the fungus and allows it to stick to surfaces and tissues, making it difficult to remove and treat patients. Researchers developed a new innovative technique aimed at destroying biofilms.

Credit: Brendan Snarr, McGill University Health Centre

A surprisingly effective graphic shows us the difference between the fungus and the biofilm it creates so it can stick to things.

Science Daily:  Biofilms: The eradication has begun

The biggest thing scaring us about hospitals after concerns about scheduled procedures will almost certainly be about post-operative infection such as MRSA or other of the horror stories since that's where we usually hear of such infections.  According to the researchers, the biofilm is part of that which makes them so dangerous and they have a strong lead on wiping it out with enzymes.

This finding, recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), creates a promising avenue for the development of innovative strategies to treat a wide variety of diseases and hospital-acquired infections like pneumonia, bloodstream and urinary tract infection. Biofilm-associated infections are responsible for thousands of deaths across North America every year. They are hard to eradicate 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 the study's co-principal investigator, Dr. Don Sheppard, director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the MUHC and scientist from the Infectious Diseases and Immunity in Global Health Program at the RI-MUHC. "Rather than trying to develop new individual 'bullets' that target single microbes we are attacking the biofilm that protects those microbes by literally tearing down the walls to expose the microbes living behind them. It's a completely new and novel strategy to tackle this issue."

- SD

My first question is does it really work.

"We made these enzymes into a biofilm destroying machine that we can use outside the microbe where the sugar molecules are found," explains co-first study author Brendan Snarr, a PhD student in Dr. Sheppard's laboratory. "These enzymes chew away all of the sugar molecules in their path and don't stop until the matrix is destroyed."

"Previous attempts to deal with biofilms have had only limited success, mostly in preventing biofilm formation. These enzymes are the first strategy that has ever been effective in eradicating mature biofilms, and that work in mouse models of infection," adds Dr. Sheppard.

- SD

Maybe you still think, well, I'll believe it when I see it but the point is the researchers have seen it and now they're working on some way to bring it to you.  The source article is there for your review.

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