One can not stop the progress. The discovery of an enzyme capable of preventing the production of a biofilm, this polymeric protective layer produced by bacteria that prevents antibiotics and surface disinfectants from functioning well, could ultimately revolutionize the fight against nosocomial infections.
The team at the McGill University Health Center, which includes Dr. Donald C. Sheppard, has published a study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Their hope is that this technology will be the subject of human clinical trials in Canada within 5 years and be used in hospitals within 10 years.
From the abstract:
We demonstrate that glycoside hydrolases derived from the opportunistic fungus Aspergillus fumigatus and Gram-negative bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa can be exploited to disrupt preformed fungal biofilms and reduce virulence.
What is a biofilm?
My colleague Rémi Charlebois described biofilms as follows:
Biofilms found on surfaces are often derived from a complex colony of microorganisms producing polymers that allow them to adhere better to the surface and facilitate colony life. In short, a biofilm is like a city for microbes. Man has learned to tame these biofilms and can use them to treat wastewater or produce certain molecules such as natural plastics. However, the presence of unwanted biofilms could be harmful and can lead to infections.
Biofilms are also found on the skin and medical devices. Thus, according to the article of Le Devoir:
Biofilms, a highly sticky matrix of proteins and sugar polymers made by bacteria to protect themselves, are attached to the skin, mucous membranes or the surface of biomedical materials, including catheters, tubing, heart valves and other prostheses Which become preferred entry points for infection.
In the same article, Dr. Sheppard quotes:
Biofilms are produced by molecules that defend against our immune system or against antibiotics with this shell that is 1000 times more resistant than the organisms that produce and proliferate in these biofilms.
An enzyme that acts as a “destructive machine” for biofilms
In short, the enzyme discovered was modified to destroy the biofilms instead of forming them. This is a new strategy that can reduce nosocomial infections in healthcare centers.
Watch this video about biofilms (25 minutes, french)