LBT have conducted proof-of-concept research into developing a device that can detect biofilms in the presence of mammalian tissue.
The device has potential across a wide range of end user applications in the healthcare industry, such as wound treatment, dentistry and medical implants.
The Complexities of Biofilms
The majority of microorganisms observed in nature, such as bacteria, reside in microcolonies or aggregates of cells known as biofilms, whereas free floating bacteria are a rarity. Biofilms are commonly identified as a major cause of infections and antibiotic resistance in bacteria, as the biofilm provides a protection mechanism against a wide range of environmental stresses.
Developing methods for the rapid detection of biofilms in both medical and non-medical contexts has been under investigation for about 20 years, and remains an unmet need in the clinical setting. Biofilms are currently implicated across a number of different end user healthcare segments such as wound treatment, dentistry and medical implants.
It is estimated that biofilms cause more than 60% of all bacterial infections. In the United States alone, approximately 1.7 million hospital-acquired infections annually involve microorganisms in the biofilm state, costing the healthcare system $11 billion each year.
The total annual cost for biofilm infections in the US is estimated to be $94 billion, with more than half a million deaths, while the cost of infections in joint replacements due to biofilms is estimated at US $1 billion per annum with more than 2% of joint replacements becoming infected.
Together with the University of Melbourne, LBT has commenced research into a technology for the rapid identification of biofilms in the presence of mammalian tissue. The initial results illustrate significant potential to positively identify Pseudomonas and Staphylococcus bacteria biofilms. The next stage extends the scope of the research and development across additional bacterial strains and develops a handheld point of care device using this technology to identify biofilms in situ.