Researchers uncover new ways to treat chronic infections

Researchers at a university in New York have identified three key regulators required for the formation and development of biofilms--a discovery that could lead to new ways of treating chronic infections.

Biofilms--communities of bacteria in self-produced slime  that are difficult to eradicate--are implicated in more than 80 percent of chronic inflammatory and infectious diseases, including ear infections, gastrointestinal ulcers, urinary tract infections and pulmonary infections in cystic fibrosis patients, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

But through their research, Karin Sauer, associate professor of biology at Binghamton University, State University of New York, and graduate student Olga Petrova have "identified three novel two-component regulatory systems that were required for the development and maturation of P. aeruginosa biofilms," according to their findings published recently in PLoS Pathogens.

"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 says in a statement.

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.

- read the press release
- check out the results published in PLoS Pathogens