April 12, 2012 at 3:52 am #3162
I post this with some sentiment, concern and frustration. Last month, I interviewed Dr. Bill Costerton (a real honor, given his role in restarting the biofilm field) who explained that the first cardiac device infection was identified and confirmed in 1981 with Dr. Tom Marrie.
So much has been learned since then; so little has been transferred to our “modern” medical establishment. When will your doctor move to biofilm diagnostics? Again, this was three decades ago!
Here’s the pubmed abstract:Circulation. 1982 Dec;66(6):1339-41.
A scanning and transmission electron microscopic study of an infected endocardial pacemaker lead.Marrie TJ, Nelligan J, Costerton JW.
We studied the pacemaker lead that had been removed from a patient who suffered three sequential episodes of Staphylococcus aureus bacteremia. This organism was recovered from the surface of the lead. Scanning electron microscopy showed differential colonization of the pacemaker lead. The metal tip, the inner surface and the internal wires were covered with a heavy biofilm of bacteria. The outer silastic surface had no biofilm adherent to it; instead, well-spaced bacterial cells were seen. These observations illustrate why infection of implantable devices persists despite intensive antibiotic chemotherapy.
Research offers new clues to prevent infection in cardiac devices
April 10, 2012 in Medical research
Bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, the ‘superbug’ behind MRSA, can be a major problem for patients who have a medical implant, such as a replacement heart valve or pacemaker.
Bacteria are able to form colonies — called biofilms — on the implanted device, which can lead to wider infections such as endocarditis, a bacterial infection of the heart.
Research led by scientists in the Department of Biology at the University of York has shed new light on how these “biofilm” structures are formed. Biofilms help the bacteria within to avoid attack from the immune system and antibiotics.
Often the only way to tackle the resulting infection is to remove the affected device, which can be a difficult and invasive process.
The team from the University of York, led by Professor Jennifer Potts, included British Heart Foundation-funded PhD student Dominika Gruszka. They found that the bacteria release long, thin protein chains to connect with other bacteria or mesh with other bacterial products. The chains have a highly unusual repetitive structure which could not have been predicted and provides important clues to how they might work. A similar protein is found on the surface of Staphylococcus epidermidis, another bacterium commonly found in device infections.
Professor Potts, a BHF Senior Research Fellow, said: “This discovery provides an important step forward in understanding how biofilms form. It should help in the development of new ways of preventing infection of cardiac devices by these bacteria.”
Dr Hélène Wilson, Research Advisor at the British Heart Foundation, which co-funded the study, said:
“These clusters of bacteria on implanted devices can be a problem for heart patients because they are very difficult to treat with antibiotics. Often the only way to tackle the infection is to remove the affected device, which can be a difficult and invasive process and lead to further complications.
“This discovery is an important step towards improving our understanding of how these biofilms are structured, which could help lead to new treatments or new ways to prevent them forming.”
The research, which also involved scientists at Trinity College and the Universities of Cambridge, Huddersfield, Leeds, is published in PNAS Online Early Edition.
More information: The paper Staphylococcal biofilm-forming protein has a contiguous rod-like structure is published in PNAS Online Early Edition. Provided by University of York
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