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Biofilm in Human Disease . A brief look

I had a great chat not too long ago with my colleague Dr. Deanna Berman about Biofilm. Soon, I will be releasing that podcast. Meanwhile, I have been learning more and more about how biofilm is involved with Dysbiosis and many chronic diseases.

Biofilm are communities of bacteria that form in many places in the body including the lumen of the gut where bacteria transition from a free forming and moving organism into joining a community of bacteria living in a unit called biofilm. The analogy of a coral reef has been used to explain biofilm as a joining of single organisms into a whole unit.

This has a lot of significance. Especially when it comes to Antibiotic Resistance.

1. In a biofilm community. - pumps exist (called efflux pumps) that rid biofilm communities of toxins and waste (including antibiotics). So antibiotic concentrations can be flushed out of these communities.

2. Bacteria in a high population community like a biofilm; have more opportunity to genetically mutate to evade the effectiveness of the antibiotic.

3. Genetic information of antibiotic resistance can be transferred to other bacteria via plasmids (DNA fragments). The bacteria can encode other community members with antibiotic resistance. What is that saying? “Those who eat together, stay together”.

4. Since antibiotics in culture and sensitivity testing are based on culturing bacteria in its free (planktonic) form and not those in a colony; many times, the antibiotic choice is targeting the wrong bug.

5. And many bacteria in biofilm communities are not culturable (would require rRNA to detect).

Why do I mention this?

In our antibiotic infatuated climate, we must think about the chronicity of the bacterial problem before we aim and fire. If it’s a new infection, like strep throat then biofilm likely has not had a chance to form. But if it’s a chronic infectious/or dysbiosis problem like chronic sinusitis or chronic UTI' or even chronic gastrointestinal dysbiosis; we have to think about biofilm and learn how to reduce them. T

This is part infectious disease, and whole lot of ecology.

source: Lewis, Charles. 2016. Enter immunology. A guide to prevention and treatment of chronic disease. psy press . Carrabelle, Florida. pg. 202-203.


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