Antibiotics are arguably the most important and successful medicines. However, the frequent growth of bacteria as biofilms, bacterial communities that grow on surfaces in a protective matrix, is of great concern. Biofilms account for two thirds of all clinical infections and are especially difficult to treat with conventional antibiotics. They are a serious problem in trauma patients with major injuries, as well as individuals with implanted medical devices.
The Hancock lab has developed novel synthetic peptides that have demonstrated a superior ability to combat bacterial biofilms. These agents work against pre-formed biofilms, show synergy with antibiotics, neutralize the universal stress response in bacteria, and work against high-density bacterial abscesses in animal models. These small peptides are promising biofilm-specific agents.
Dr. Pletzer’s research will study the mechanisms of these peptides and how they interact with and aid antibiotics as this novel treatment moves towards clinical development.