Current research into biofilm-associated infections
Does your research concern bio-inspired antibacterial alternatives to traditional antibiotics? Our expert Editorial team, Prof. Len Evans, Prof. Carla Renata Arciola, Dr Elinor Pulcini and Dr Manuel Simões offer their insights into how biofilm research is influencing new drug-delivery technologies.
New drug-delivery technologies
In parallel with the enormous spread in the use of biomaterials in medicine the number of Biofilm-associated infections has been steadily increasing since 1990. This has resulted in devastating complications in patients wearing prostheses and assisted by medical devices, as well a huge economic burden for health systems. By 2020 in the USA alone, the projected cost of managing these infections is expected to exceed $2 billion.
Staphylococci are the most frequent etiological agent, followed by Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Enterococcus faecalis. After an initial adhesin-mediated implant colonization, the bacteria produce biofilms. The encasing of bacteria in biofilms causes serious difficulties in treating infections, since biofilm-embedded bacteria are inherently protected from antibiotic therapies.
Cutting-edge research aims to make the surfaces of implant materials not only anti-biofilm but also functionalized with other beneficial properties, such as favouring integration with host tissues, exerting anti-inflammatory activities, and promoting wound healing.
Interesting opportunities are offered by bio-inspired antibacterial substances different from traditional antibiotics. The focus should be on antimicrobial peptides and phytocompounds, especially if associated with the new technologies of drug-delivery based on nanostructured materials. Anti-infective nanomaterials and nanocoatings are currently opening up new horizons in this field of endeavor.