Skip to content

Magnetized bacteriophages successfully punch through biofilms to reach targets.

Biofilms are where bacteria join together on a surface and start to form a protective matrix around their group, examples include dental plaque, a slimy biofilm of bacteria forming on the surfaces of teeth.  Due to their structure biofilms may shelter problematic microorganisms that are difficult to eradicate due to the hindered penetration of antimicrobial chemicals.  Now, a study led by researchers Rice University develops magnetic bacteriophages, viruses known to infect bacteria, in nanoclusters with the power to punch through biofilms to reach bacteria fouling water treatment systems.  The team states their nanoclusters deliver bacteriophages to targets shown to generally resist chemical disinfection.  The study is published in the journal Environmental Science: Nano.

Previous studies show biofilms can be beneficial in some wastewater treatment or industrial fermentation reactors owing to their enhanced reaction rates and resistance to exogenous stresses.  However, biofilms can be very harmful in water distribution and storage systems since they can shelter pathogenic microorganisms posing significant public health concerns, as well as contributing to corrosion and its associated economic losses.  Bacteriophages have been investigated as a treatment solution, however, they disperse in solution and largely fail to penetrate biofilms.  The current study investigates nanoclusters capable of immobilizing bacteriophages, using a weak magnetic field to draw them into biofilms to their targets.

The current study utilizes bacteriophages which are polyvalent, meaning they’re able to attack more than one type of bacteria, to target lab-grown films containing Escherichia coli (E. coli) and P. aeruginosa, which is prone to antibiotic resistance.  The bacteriophages are combined with amino-modified nanoclusters of carbon, sulfur, and iron oxide. Results show the amino coating prompts the bacteriophages to bond with the clusters head-first, leaving their infectious tails exposed and able to infect bacteria.

Data findings show a relatively weak magnetic field pushes the nanoclusters into the film and disrupts it. Results show the bacteriophage-nanoclusters effectively killed E. coli and P. aeruginosa in over 90 percent of the film.  The group notes bacteria may still develop resistance to bacteriophages, however, the ability to quickly disrupt biofilms would make this more difficult.  The lab concludes their novel approach, a convergence of nanotechnology and virology, has great potential to treat difficult-to-eradicate biofilms in an effective manner without producing harmful disinfection byproducts.

The team surmises their study develops bacterial suppression using bacteriophages attached to nanoclusters with the ability to penetrate biofilms under a relatively small magnetic field.  For the future, the researchers state they are now working on phage cocktails combining multiple types of bacteriophages and/or antibiotics with the particles to inhibit resistance.

Source: Rice University

Get Healthinnovations delivered to your inbox:

Healthinnovations View All

Michelle Petersen is the founder of Healthinnovations, having worked in the health and science industry for over 21 years, which includes tenure within the NHS and Oxford University. Healthinnovations is a publication that has reported on, influenced, and researched current and future innovations in health for the past decade.

Michelle has been picked up as an expert writer for Informa publisher’s Clinical Trials community, as well as being listed as a blog source by the world’s leading medical journals, including the acclaimed Nature-Springer journal series.

Healthinnovations is currently indexed by the trusted Altmetric and PlumX metrics systems, respectively, as a blog source for published research globally. Healthinnovations is also featured in the world-renowned BioPortfolio, BioPortfolio.com, the life science, pharmaceutical and healthcare portal.

Most recently the Texas A&M University covered The Top 10 Healthinnovations series on their site with distinguished Professor Stephen Maren calling the inclusion of himself and his team on the list a reflection of “the hard work and dedication of my students and trainees”.

Michelle Petersen’s copy was used in the highly successful marketing campaign for the mega-hit film ‘Jumanji: The Next Level, starring Jack Black, Karen Gilian, Kevin Hart and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Michelle Petersen’s copywriting was part of the film’s coverage by the Republic TV network. Republic TV is the most-watched English language TV channel in India since its inception in 2017.

An avid campaigner in the fight against child sex abuse and trafficking, Michelle is a passionate humanist striving for a better quality of life for all humans by helping to provide traction for new technologies and techniques within healthcare.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.