Tissue samples analyzed by the CBE from Wolcott's clinic revealed that 60 percent contained biofilms, compared with a mere 6 percent in acute wounds, such as cuts.
Previous center research has shown that bacteria in biofilms activate sets of genes that are dormant in free-floating bacteria. With their new genetic instructions, biofilm bacteria form complicated slimy communities that can be 1000 times more antibiotic resistant than free-floating bacteria.
"If you accept the biofilm theory of chronic wounds, it explains a lot," said Garth James, director of medical projects at the CBE. "It explains why these wounds are slow to heal. It explains why they recur. It explains why certain treatments - like debridement, where a wound is actually scraped clean - works. In that case, the biofilms are removed."
The grant is in partnership with Wolcott, who offers an important clinical perspective, and the division of dermatology at the University of Washington's Department of Medicine, which brings expertise in the biology of wound healing to the project.
"It's a point to relish that much of the data that was gathered to make this grant successful was the result of undergraduate work," Stewart said.
Ellen Swogger, a recent chemical engineering graduate from Miles City, and Pat Secor, a biochemistry graduate from Bozeman, did that undergraduate research. Swogger is headed to Oregon State University for a Ph.D. Secor is pursuing a Ph.D. at MSU.
One of the center's strengths is its unique interdisciplinary team that includes researchers from engineering, the life sciences and medicine, James said.
"If you bring in people from different disciplines they can see the problem in different ways," James said. "The more minds working
Source:Montana State University