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Recent developments in Dartmouth research

Posted 11/27/00

Technology for disrupting formation of biofilms developed by Dartmouth Medical School's George O'Toole and a colleague from Harvard Medical School recently was licensed for commercial use by Microbia, a company which develops anti-microbial drugs.

Biofilms are highly differentiated communities of bacteria that develop on surfaces such as catheters and prosthetic implants, inner ears, teeth, gums, lungs, and urogenital track. Highly resistant to existing antibiotics, biofilms are a very serious health problem. It is estimated that 65 percent of human bacterial infections involve biofilms.

Recognized as pioneers in biofilm research, O'Toole and collaborator Roberto Kolter and a team of scientists identified various stages of biofilm development and the physiological changes in the bacteria required to move from one stage to the next. Understanding the molecular and genetic basis of biofilm development led them to the invention of methods for discovering compounds capable of disrupting biofilms, and ultimately to the discovery of such compounds.

For more information about biofilms, see feature article titled "Slimebusters" by Marina Chicurel in the Nov. 16 issue of Nature.

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