In a recent press release the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Disease (ESCMID)– an organization that explores the risks and best practices in infectious disease – advocates the need for greater education, guidance and research on the build-up, treatment and prevention of biofilms, which contribute to antimicrobial resistance.
The ESCMID group for Biofilms considers particularly important to increase connections between research groups and the pharmaceutical industry to take a more holistic view of the problem and target the three contributing factors to biofilms: increased antibacterial resistance, anti-biofilm compounds and medical device refractory.
Biofilms are aggregated, sessile communities, formed from groups of microorganisms that persist in the environment and in chronic infections. Biofilms can form on the surfaces of implanted devices – including catheters, cardiac valves, intrauterine devices and contact lenses – or even on teeth as dental plaque, but also in the mucus of cystic fibrosis patients and in the wound bed of chronic wounds. Aggregates of microorganisms begin to form by sticking to materials (e.g. metals and plastics) or each other within dead human tissues or other host components using weak van der Waals interactions. However, stronger, more permanent anchors are put in place if the initial colonists are not removed quickly enough (sometimes hours). Ultimately, this can lead to the biofilms harbouring severe infections that are difficult to treat.