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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
Boston Globe Health and Science staff:
Karen Weintraub, Deputy Health and Science Editor, and Gideon Gil, Health and Science Editor.
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Monday, July 2, 2007
Scientists report win against bacterial biofilms
Two scientists from Boston University and a Harvard-MIT program have engineered an organism to fight bacterial biofilms.
Writing in the online Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Timothy K. Lu and James J. Collins report that they created a bacteriophage -- a virus that infects bacterial cells -- that releases an enzyme to attack both the bacterial cells in the biofilm and to disperse the biofilm itself.
Bacteria commonly live in biofilms. They can be found in dental plaque or water pipes or on medical devices. A source of infection and contamination, biofilms pose a particular problem when they are resistant to antibiotics.
Bacteriophages work in a different way than antibiotics when they infect bacterial cells. The authors say that adding enzymes makes the bacteriophages much more effective than previous efforts that didn't incorporate enzymes.
Lu is from the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology and Collins is from BU's Center for BioDynamics.