Synthetic biologists from Boston University are describing a specially engineered bacteriophage that is capable of fighting pathogenic bacterial biofilms with a pretty clever two-prong strategy:
Synthetic biology involves the engineering of biological organisms by using modular and generalizable designs with the ultimate goal of developing useful solutions to real-world problems. One such problem involves bacterial biofilms, which are crucial in the pathogenesis of many clinically important infections and are difficult to eradicate because they exhibit resistance to antimicrobial treatments and removal by host immune systems. To address this issue, we engineered bacteriophage to express a biofilm-degrading enzyme during infection to simultaneously attack the bacterial cells in the biofilm and the biofilm matrix, which is composed of extracellular polymeric substances. We show that the efficacy of biofilm removal by this two-pronged enzymatic bacteriophage strategy is significantly greater than that of nonenzymatic bacteriophage treatment. Our engineered enzymatic phage substantially reduced bacterial biofilm cell counts by ~ 4.5 orders of magnitude (~99.997% removal), which was about two orders of magnitude better than that of nonenzymatic phage.
We can only wonder how long it is before firms start to experiment with coating such viruses onto implantable devices, to make medgadgets less prone to infections. We’ll have to wait and see.
The open access paper at Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci.: Dispersing biofilms with engineered enzymatic bacteriophage …
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