New technique could prevent dangerous biofilms on catheters

November 17, 2015
New technique could prevent dangerous biofilms on catheters
Staphylococcus aureus bacteria forming biofilm Credit: University of Gothenburg

Biofilms frequently coat the surfaces of catheters, and of various medical implants and prostheses, where they can cause life-threatening infections. New research at the Sahlgrenska Academy show that coating implants with a certain "activator" can prevent Staphylococcus aureus, the leading cause of hospital-acquired infections, from forming biofilms.

Biofilms are mats of bacteria similar to the plaque that grows on teeth. Biofilms frequently coat the surfaces of catheters, and of various medical implants and prostheses, where they can threaten lives or lead to failure of the implants.

Antibiotics are impotent against . Now Gothenburg researchers Jakub Kwiecinski, Tao Jin and collaborators show that coating implants with "" can prevent Staphylococcus aureus, the leading cause of hospital-acquired infections, from forming biofilms.

Hijacks the system

A growing biofilm requires anchoring, and in earlier research, this team, led by Jin, an Associate Professor of Rheumatology and Inflammation Research, the University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden, had discovered that S. aureus hijacks the human clotting system to create a scaffold of micro-clots to support the growing biofilm.

"We hypothesized that if we forced the to start dissolving those clots, we could prevent the biofilm from developing," said Kwiecinski, a post-doctoral researcher in Jin's laboratory.

Clot-dissolving protein

To encouraging the clot-busting, the investigators coated the surfaces with tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), which activates the clot-dissolving protein, plasminogen.

"This deprives S. aureus of a scaffold for and prevents infection," said Kwiecinski. After performing the research under laboratory conditions, they confirmed that it works by coating catheters that they then implanted into laboratory mice.

Looking beyond bacteria

A key to the team's success was their decision to look beyond the bacteria, the stopping place for most previous research, to the human body's involvement in the infections, said Kwiecinski. The clot-busting, he said, could be applied to biofilms of pathogens other than S. aureus.

Biofilm-related infections afflict around 1.7 million in the US alone, killing nearly 100,000 annually, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. "With increasing numbers of prosthetic devices used in modern medicine, this number is only going to increase," said Kwiecinski. Thus, the research could lead to a major reduction in hospital-acquired disease and death.

Explore further: New technique could prevent biofilms on catheters and medical implants

More information: Tissue plasminogen activator coating on surface of implants reduces Staphylococcus aureus biofilm formation, Accepted manuscript posted online 30 October 2015, DOI: 10.1128/AEM.02803-15

Related Stories

Antimicrobial film for future implants

September 23, 2015

The implantation of medical devices is not without risks. Bacterial or fungal infections can occur and the body's strong immune response may lead to the rejection of the implant. Researchers at Unit 1121 "Biomaterials and ...

Study reveals secrets of bacterial slime

April 12, 2013

(Phys.org) —Newcastle University scientists have revealed the mechanism that causes a slime to form, making bacteria hard to shift and resistant to antibiotics.

Recommended for you

Tiny protein coiled coils that self-assemble into cages

October 17, 2017

(Phys.org)—A large team of researchers with members from Slovenia, the U.K, Serbia, France and Spain has developed a technique that causes proteins to self-assemble into geometric shapes on demand. In their paper published ...

The importance of asymmetry in bacteria

October 17, 2017

New research published in Nature Microbiology has highlighted a protein that functions as a membrane vacuum cleaner and which could be a potential new target for antibiotics.

Fish respond to predator attack by doubling growth rate

October 17, 2017

Scientists have known for years that when some fish sense predators eating members of their species, they try to depart the scene of the crime and swim toward safer waters. This sensible behavior is exactly what evolution ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.