Biofilms represent an adaptive lifestyle where microbes grow as structured aggregates in many different environments, e.g. on body surfaces and medical devices. They are a profound threat in medical (and industrial) settings and cause two-thirds of all infections. Biofilm bacteria are especially recalcitrant to common antibiotic treatments, demonstrating adaptive multidrug resistance. For this reason, novel methods to eradicate or prevent biofilm infections are greatly needed. Recent advances have been made in exploring alternative strategies that affect biofilm lifestyle, inhibit biofilm formation, degrade biofilm components and/or cause dispersal. As such, naturally derived compounds, molecules that interfere with bacterial signaling systems, anti-biofilm peptides and phages show great promise. Their implementation as either stand-alone drugs or complementary therapies has the potential to eradicate resilient biofilm infections. Additionally, altering the surface properties of indwelling medical devices through bioengineering approaches has been examined as a method for preventing biofilm formation. There is also a need for improving current biofilm detection methods since in vitro methods often do not accurately measure live bacteria in biofilms or mimic in vivo conditions. We propose that the design and development of novel compounds will be enabled by the improvement and use of appropriate in vitro and in vivo models.
Three derivatives of one Streptomyces species showing variations in morphological development and pigment production. In this issue, Rebecca Devine, Matthew Hutchings and Neil Holmes explore how the use of new technologies, including improved culture-dependent and -independent techniques, combined with searching underexplored environments, promises to identify a new generation of antibiotics from actinomycete bacteria such as Streptomyces. See pages 1–12 for further details. Image kindly provided by Paul A. Hoskisson (University of Strathclyde, UK).
Alternative strategies for the study and treatment of clinical bacterial biofilms
Daniel Walker, Corrie R. Belanger, Sarah C. Mansour, Daniel Pletzer, Robert E.W. Hancock; Alternative strategies for the study and treatment of clinical bacterial biofilms. Emerg Top Life Sci 21 April 2017; 1 (1): 41–53. doi: https://doi.org/10.1042/ETLS20160020
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