MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Christopher M. Waters PhD
Departments of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
BEACON Center for The Study of Evolution in Actio
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Our research really centers on understanding and targeting bacterial biofilms. These are multicellular communities of bacteria encased in a slimy matrix that protects them from the immune system and antibiotic treatment during infections. One of the most common types of biofilm infections is in the lungs of cystic fibrosis by the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa. CF patients can become chronically colonized by P. aeruginosa, and antibiotics are not able to clear these infections.
Our idea was can we find other molecules that make antibiotics more effective at killing biofilms? To this end, we screened about 6,000 compounds for those that would make tobramycin more effective at killing P. aeruginosa biofilms, and one of the best hits we found was the antimicrobial triclosan that has been widely used for decades in hand sanitizers, soaps, and tooth paste. Although neither triclosan nor tobramycin can kill biofilms alone, the combination is 100X more effective against virtually every P. aeruginosa strain tested. It also worked against other bacteria that commonly infect cystic fibrosis lungs such as Staphylococcus aureus and Burkholderia cenocepacia.