James Bryers, Professor
Worldwide production of biomedical devices and tissue engineering-related materials is a $170 billion per year industry and expanding rapidly. However, 80% of hospital-acquired infections are associated with implants or indwelling medical devices; with the case-to-fatality ratio of these infections ranging between 5-60%. ?Bioinspired? materials incorporate spatially defined physical (e.g., microscale surface topographies) or chemical cues (e.g., spatial patterns of extracellular matrix or adhesion signals) to guide the local organization and physiology of incoming mammalian cells. Unfortunately, signals designed to seduce mammalian cells may also enhance bacterial colonization and infections.
Biofilms are dense microcolonies of microbial cells entrapped within a polysaccharide matrix attached to a surface. The ?biofilm concept? fundamentally contradicts the assumption that infectious cells are evenly distributed and therefore equally vulnerable to immune responses or antibiotic therapies. The biofilm mode of growth accounts for several problematic clinical challenges, such as: symptomatic, but unculturable species; chronic inflammation; rapidly acquired antibiotic resistance; recurrence or persistence of infections; and metastasis or the spread of infectious emboli.
Our systems-approach to biofilm research comprises the following topics: receptor:ligand specific adhesion, genomics/proteomics of biofilm formation, three-dimensional mass transport phenomena in thick biofilms, enhancing phagocytosis of bacteria, engineering infection immunity, and developing biomaterials to selectively differentiate healing immune cells.