Chips, light and coding moves the front line in beating bacteria

phys.org | 8/15/2018 | Staff
abbycraig (Posted by) Level 3
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The never-ending fight against bacteria has taken a turn in humanity's favor with the announcement of a tool that could give the upper hand in drug research.

Bacterial resistance to antibiotics has produced alarming headlines in recent years, with the prospect of commonly prescribed treatments becoming obsolete setting off alarm bells in the medical establishment.

Ways - Replacements - Team - Okinawa - Institute

More efficient ways of testing replacements are desperately needed, and a team from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) has just found one.

In their paper, published in ACS Sensors, the scientists look at a microbial structure called biofilms—bacterial cells that band together into a slimy matrix.

Bacteria - Resistance - Antibiotics - Properties - Biofilms

These are advantageous for bacteria, even giving resistance to conventional antibiotics. With properties like these, biofilms can be hazardous when they contaminate environments and industries; everything from tainting food production to clogging sewage treatment pipes. Biofilms can also become lethal if they make their way into medical facilities.

Understanding how biofilms are formed is key to finding ways to defeat them, and this study brought together OIST scientists from backgrounds in biotechnology, nanoengineering and software programming to tackle it.

Team - Biofilm - Assembly - Reactions - Bacteria

The team focused on biofilm assembly kinetics—the biochemical reactions that allow bacteria to produce their linked matrix structure. Gathering intelligence on how these reactions function can tell a lot about what drugs and chemicals can be used to counteract them.

No tools were available to the team that would allow them to monitor biofilm growth with the frequency they needed to have a clear understanding of it. So, they modified an existing tool to their own design.

Dr - Nikhil - Bhalla - OIST - Micro/Bio/Nanofluidics

Dr. Nikhil Bhalla, working in OIST's Micro/Bio/Nanofluidics Unit, led by Prof. Amy Shen, took to the nanoscale to find a solution: "We created little chips with tiny structures for E. coli to grow on," he said. "They are covered in mushroom shaped nano-structures with a stem...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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