Stevens Institute of Technology recently received a research grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for the project, “Functional Polymers Modified Surfaces with Biofilm Sensitizing Ability.” Jun F. (James) Liang, Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, will serve as the project’s Principal Investigator.
A biofilm is an assemblage of microbial cells that is irreversibly associated with a surface. Bacteria in biofilm show unique physiological characteristics that are much different from planktonic cultured phenotypes. One of the most important features of bacterial biofilms is their resistance to antimicrobial agents and the host immune system attacks. Bacteria living in biofilms can exhibit up to 1,000 time greater resistance to antibiotics than planktonic bacteria.
“As the widespread use of implants in the medical diagnostics and therapies for persons with disabilities, implant caused infections now account for 80% of hospital infections. Regardless what anti-biofilm methods are used, the success rates are very limited and biofilms will nevertheless form on implanted devices. In most cases, biofilm related infections can only be cured by a high cost and undesirable procedure through the removal of the implants. In this project, we propose to fight against biofilm from a new direction by directly dealing with formed biofilms. We will construct functional polymer modified surfaces that can prevent bacterial adhesion and sensitize formed biofilms for antibiotic treatment,” said Liang.
Biofilm associated nosocomial (hospital acquired) infection and disease is currently the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, behind only heart disease, cancer and stroke. Study of bacterial adhesion and biofilm sensitizing mechanism on polymer modified surfaces will enrich our knowledge about biofilm resistance and promote the research on infectious disease prevention.