Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Biofilms: Researchers discover new ways to treat chronic infections

January 1, 2010
Binghamton University
Researchers have identified three key regulators required for the formation and development of biofilms. The discovery could lead to new ways of treating chronic infections.

Inactivation of the expression of three key regulators bfiS, bfmR, and mifR in mature biofilms results in biofilm architectural collapse and biomass loss. P. aeruginosa mutants complemented with plasmid-borne copies of the respective genes placed under the regulation of the arabinose-inducible PBAD were grown under continuous flow conditions in glutamate minimal medium in the presence of 0.1% arabinose for 144 hr after which time the biofilms were visualized by confocal microscopy (0 hr). Then, arabinose was eliminated from the growth medium and the biofilm architecture monitored post arabinose removal at the times indicated. PAO1 strain harboring the empty pJN105 vector was used as control. White bars = 100 žm.
Credit: Karin Sauer

Researchers at Binghamton University, State University of New York, have identified three key regulators required for the formation and development of biofilms. The discovery could lead to new ways of treating chronic infections.

Related Articles

Biofilms -- communities of bacteria in self-produced slime -- may be found almost anywhere that solids and liquids meet, whether in nature, in hospitals or in industrial settings. Biofilms are implicated in more than 80 percent of chronic inflammatory and infectious diseases caused by bacteria, including ear infections, gastrointestinal ulcers, urinary tract infections and pulmonary infections in cystic fibrosis patients, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

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. Biofilms also pose a persistent problem in many industrial processes, including drinking water distribution networks and manufacturing.

Karin Sauer, associate professor of biology at Binghamton University, and graduate student Olga Petrova published their findings of key regulatory events required for the formation and development of Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms in PLoS Pathogens, a peer-reviewed, open-access journal published online by the Public Library of Science.

"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."

Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an opportunistic pathogenic bacterium, is considered one of the primary causes of death in patients with cystic fibrosis, a common and life-threatening hereditary disease.

Petrova documented a previously unknown genetic program composed of several regulators by looking for changes in phosphorylation patterns in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. These regulators cannot only be used to stop the development of biofilms at various stages in their growth but also to revert established biofilms to an earlier developmental stage.

"The problem you have when you have a chronic infection is that your immune system is trying to clear the infection but is unable to," Sauer said. "And the longer the chronic infection goes on, the more damage there will be to tissue at the site of the infection. That's because the immune response often involves the release of toxic compounds that have no effect on biofilms but can damage the surrounding tissues."

Sauer's research is driven by several key questions, she said: "Can we outsmart the biofilms? Can we interfere with biofilm antibiotic resistance? Can we figure out how to prevent biofilms from forming and becoming resistant to antibiotics?"

Some recent findings seem to offer a resounding yes to these questions. In addition to regulators required for biofilm formation, 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."

Sauer's research is supported by the National Institutes of Health, which has awarded her more than $3 million, and the Army Research Office. Her two major NIH-funded projects, which began this fall, look at different aspects of biofilms. One focuses on antibiotic resistance and the mechanism behind it; the other centers on dispersion, the process by which a biofilm breaks down into individual bacterial cells.

"Dispersed cells -- or planktonic cells -- are way easier to treat," Sauer said. "We want to understand how bacteria decide when to leave the biofilm. We can use that as a way to treat chronic infections."

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Binghamton University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Olga E. Petrova, Karin Sauer. A Novel Signaling Network Essential for Regulating Pseudomonas aeruginosa Biofilm Development. PLoS Pathogens, 2009; 5 (11): e1000668 DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1000668

Cite This Page:

Binghamton University. "Biofilms: Researchers discover new ways to treat chronic infections." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 January 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091218151327.htm>.
Binghamton University. (2010, January 1). Biofilms: Researchers discover new ways to treat chronic infections. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091218151327.htm
Binghamton University. "Biofilms: Researchers discover new ways to treat chronic infections." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091218151327.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This

More From ScienceDaily

More Plants & Animals News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) — The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) — As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) — Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

Buzz60 (Dec. 17, 2014) — Urbanspoon predicts whicg food trends will dominate the culinary scene in 2015. Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.


Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News


Free Subscriptions

Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile

Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?

Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins