Scientists from the US National Institutes of Health have identified the mechanism through which catheter-related bacterial infections develop into a life-threatening condition.
Scientists conducted research on Staphylococcus epidermidis in mice implanted with catheters to gain an understanding of several types of bacterial biofilm infections.
They identified a specific Staphylococcus epidermidis protein, phenol-soluble modulin beta (PSM-beta), that biofilms use for multiple purposes – to grow, to detach from an implanted medical device and to disseminate infection.
When antibodies were used against PSM-beta, scientists were able to slow the bacterial spread within the study mice, which indicates that interfering with biofilm development could provide a way to stop the spread of biofilm-associated infection.
Similar proteins are found in Staphylococcus aureus , and scientists are planning to study their role in biofilms of MRSA and other bacteria.
Biofilms are clusters of microbes that are associated with healthcare-associated infections involving medical devices such as catheters, pacemakers and prosthetics.