Scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have identified the mechanism through which catheter-related bacterial infection develops and disseminates, to become a life-threatening condition.
For the study, scientists conducted research on Staphylococcus epidermidis in mice implanted with catheters, to understand several types of bacterial biofilm infections.
During the study, scientists identified a specific S epidermidis protein, called 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 S aureus and scientists are planning to study their role in biofilms of MRSA and other bacteria.