MQ Health - Macquarie University

Bacterial biofilms and hospital-acquired infections

As part of research to prevent surgical infection, MQ Health researchers have demonstrated the prevalence of bacterial biofilms on surfaces and their role in causing surgical and other hospital-acquired infections.

Biofilms are extended colonies of bacteria that develop on surfaces. The colonies are protected by a self-generated layer of biological molecules, the ‘biofilm’, and so are difficult to remove or kill with disinfectant. Moreover, the bacteria can survive within the biofilm for extended periods and consequently can remain an ongoing source of possible infection.

Research within MQ Health is exploring ways to remove biofilms and minimise their (re-)development. Studies of the biology and chemistry of biofilms, and the bacteria that live within them, are helping identify and test better ways to sterilise surfaces.

Other research is examining the effects of bacterial biofilms in wounds, breast implants, cystic fibrosis, orthopaedic plates and the dental environment. This work has already allowed development of new strategies to minimise the risk of biofilm-associated capsular contraction in breast implants. These strategies are used as standard practice by MQ Health’s Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Clinic.