CALTECH APH 162 - Battling Bio Films (10 pages)

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Battling Bio Films



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Battling Bio Films

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Lecture Notes


Pages:
10
School:
California Institute of Technology
Course:
Aph 162 - Physical Biology Laboratory

Unformatted text preview:

Copyright 2001 Scientific American Inc BY J W COSTERTON AND PHILIP S STEWART Photographs by Sam Ogden Battling MICROGRAPH LOUISE M C LAUGHLIN BORLACE Institute of Ophthalmology Department of Pathology London LICENSED FOR USE ASM M I C R O B E L I B R A R Y www microbelibrary org Biofilms THE WAR IS AGAINST BACTERIAL COLONIES THAT CAUSE SOME OF THE MOST TENACIOUS INFECTIONS KNOWN THE WEAPON IS KNOWLEDGE OF THE ENEMY S COMMUNICATION SYSTEM CONTACT LENSES left are among the familiar surfaces that may be colonized by biofilms slime enclosed communities of microorganisms The film shown above from a contact lens case presumably caused a corneal infection diagnosed in the lens wearer SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN Copyright 2001 Scientific American Inc 75 P entagon planners concern themselves a great deal nowadays with information warfare Why Because interfering with a foe s ability to communicate can be far more effective than destroying its bunkers or factories In the battle against harmful bacteria some investigators are considering the same strategy The microbes that cause many stubborn infections organize themselves into complex and tenacious films biofilms that can be nearly impossible to eradicate with conventional antibiotics In the past few years medical researchers have discovered that the microorganisms in biofilms depend critically on their ability to signal one another Drugs able to interfere with this transmission might then bar the microbes from establishing infections or undermine their well fortified positions such drugs might thus combat maladies ranging from the pneumonia that repeatedly afflicts people with cystic fibrosis to the slow burning infections that often form around medical implants Signal dampening compounds are currently being evaluated in animal studies but why is it that such elegant weapons are only now being readied to enter the medical arsenal The answer in short is that microbiologists took a very long time to size up the enemy Ever since the



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