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Glycoside Hydrolases Degrade Polymicrobial Bacterial Biofilms in Wounds

Fleming, Derek; Chahin, Laura; Rumbaugh, Kendra

The persistent nature of chronic wounds leaves them highly susceptible to invasion by a variety of pathogens that have the ability to construct an extracellular polymeric substance (EPS). This EPS makes the bacterial population, or biofilm, up to 1,000-fold more antibiotic tolerant than planktonic cells and makes wound healing extremely difficult. Thus, compounds which have the ability to degrade biofilms, but not host tissue components, are highly sought after for clinical applications. In this study, we examined the efficacy of two glycoside hydrolases, alpha-amylase and cellulase, which break down complex polysaccharides, to effectively disrupt Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa monoculture and coculture biofilms. We hypothesized that glycoside hydrolase therapy would significantly reduce EPS biomass and convert bacteria to their planktonic state, leaving them more susceptible to conventional antimicrobials. Treatment of S. aureus and P. aeruginosa biofilms, grown in vitro and in vivo, with solutions of alpha-amylase and cellulase resulted in significant reductions in biomass, dissolution of the biofilm, and an increase in the effectiveness of subsequent antibiotic treatments. These data suggest that glycoside hydrolase therapy represents a potential safe, effective, and new avenue of treatment for biofilm-related infections.

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