Over 60% of all human infections treated by physicians are due to biofilms; examples being oral biofilms and biofilms involved in a variety of pathological conditions like for instance osteomyelitis, chronic otitis media, the infected diabetic foot, chronic bacterial prostatitis or in biomaterial associated infections. In a biofilm, microorganisms produce extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) that embed biofilm inhabitants in a protective matrix. The biofilm matrix not only provides a microenvironment for microbial growth, catalysis, and communication, but also protects its inhabitants against environmental challenges, such as UV exposure, acids, or antimicrobials.
Van Leeuwenhoek reported in 1684 that “the vinegar with which I washt my teeth, kill’d only those animals which were on the outside of the scurf, but did not pass thro the whole substance of it”. Since then little progress has been made in making biofilms more susceptible to antimicrobial treatment until now. UMCG and Chinese researchers have found the answer, described in a new paper published in ACS Nano. They describe a highly effective pathway to control blood-accessible staphylococcal biofilms using antimicrobials, bypassing biofilm recalcitrance to antimicrobial penetration. This pathway has the potential to provide a much needed alternative for the control of biofilm-related infections in the human body in a time where antibiotic resistance is becoming more and more rampant every year.