Wound infections: biofilms and the search for novel antimicrobial agents

Wound infections are one of the most common bacterial infections that are seen both in the community and in the healthcare setting. Wounds may occur acutely or if they fail to heal within a timely reparative process of three months are considered to be chronic wounds. The most common bacteria that cause wound infections is Staphylococcus aureus, whilst this organisms plus others such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa can cause chronic wound infections. When these organisms gain entry via a break in the skin they have a number of virulence properties such as biofilm formation, which can result in infection. A biofilm is an adherent group of bacterial cells that become encased in a slime layer; indeed up to 80% of human bacterial infections are said to involve bacteria within a biofilm. The formation of biofilm within a wound bed is recognised as a key reason for treatment failure. Infections associated with biofilms are difficult to treat because the biofilm matrix can shield the organisms from the host immune response and the action of antimicrobial drugs, and this often results in treatment failure and associated patient morbidity.

Therefore, there is a need to identify new biofilm active antimicrobial agents. Preliminary research in ours and other laboratories have identified three such novel groups of agents which have significant anti-biofilm properties versus these organisms. In this study, which is entirely patient-oriented, we aim to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of these agents when tested in the laboratory in conditions to mimic the wound environement and in animal studies when these agents will be applied topically to a wound in an animal model of infection. Outputs from this study will identify new effective treatments for wound infections, which we believe will lead to clinical trials to confirm real life efficacy in humans.

Award Date
27 June 2019
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Professor Eoghan O'Neill
Host Institution
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Investigator Led Projects