Back

Biofilms—the eradication has begun

Canadian scientists take a step forward in the fight against microbial armour‎

Jun 21, 2017

Montreal – Have you ever heard of biofilms? They are slimy, glue-like membranes that are produced by microbes, like bacteria and fungi, in order to colonize surfaces. They can grow on animal and plant tissues, and even inside the human body on medical devices such as catheters, heart valves, or artificial hips. Biofilms protect microbes from the body’s immune system and increase their resistance to antibiotics. They represent one of the biggest threats to patients in hospital settings. But there is good news – a research team led by the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) and The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) has developed a novel enzyme technology that prevents the formation of biofilms and can also break them down.

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. Read more