Biofilms in health and medicine
In the medical field, biofilms are often a concern due to their tendency to form on implants and their resilience to antibiotics. In consequence, biofilms can cause serious illness and failure of surgical procedures and treatments [1-4]. This is mainly due to the EPS and the physiological change of the biofilm-residing microbes as biofilms contain numerous proteins which are not observed in the planktonic and free-living cells [1-3].
Since biofilm-residing bacteria tend to be resilient to the immune system, antibiotics, and other treatments, biofilm infections are typically chronic in nature .
The antibiotic resistant features of the biofilm is a major concern which has fundamental consequences [1, 4]. Antibiotic resistance often occurs because of the persister cells inside the biofilm [1, 5]. In order to survive in the presence of lethal factors, these cells forfeit propagation. That is, when subjected to antimicrobial treatments, the cells change to a state where they do not divide.
Biofilms cause foreign body implant infections
An example of a bacterial strain associated with the infection of implants made from foreign body materials is Pseudomonas aeruginosa , while the most frequent cause of biofilm associated infections in medical devices and implants is Staphylococcus aureus. During an antibiotic treatment, the persisters survive, and once the treatment ceases, they can repopulate. The only solution is thereby to remove the implant [1, 5]. Another problem is that the biofilm-residing cells often slough off and repopulate another place in the body [1-3]. Therefore, biofilms are often studied in research to overcome or avoid the consequences of the formation on medical devices and implants .
The medical importance of biofilm research
Due to the significant human health implications of biofilms, research concerned with biofilm formation, prevention, and treatment can potentially enhance medical and dental practices.
Biofilm has been found to be part of many chronic infections. Therefore, knowledge on how biofilm may contribute to the pathogenesis of disease is important for the development of effective treatments for biofilm associated infections .
The field of research mostly investigates the formation of biofilms on implants and solid support matrices, or scaffolds, to obtain knowledge on the communication between the biofilm cells. Namely, in the hope of finding a solution to the antibiotic resistances or to gain a better understanding of the complex community [2-4].
To reach an understanding of biofilm formation mechanisms, the P3D scaffold can be used to investigate microbe attachment and how biofilm-residing cells interact with 1) each other, 2) synthetic bone implants, and 3) bone cells. Moreover, the lifelike 3D environment can be used to test the effect of antimicrobial treatments.
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