Fluorescence in situ hybridisation staining of Streptococcus pyogenes and Escherichia coli in laboratory grown biofilms. (Image credit Sita Clark)
Chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) is a miserable condition with sufferers feeling as if they have a permanent head cold. Some patients have persistent infection and inflammation even after repeated courses of antibiotics and/or sinus surgery. Such resistant cases may be due to bacterial biofilms within the sinuses. Bacteria in biofilms are shielded by a protective layer around each cell, like mortar around bricks. This protects them from antibiotics, making effective treatment difficult. Nonetheless, antibiotics are prescribed widely for CRS, increasing the risk of antibiotic resistance. Another aspect of biofilms is they are difficult to detect. Current culture or imaging methods are either unwieldy or destroy the very biofilm structures that we aim to study. DNA-based methods are, by contrast, more sensitive but lack a universal biofilm biomarker. In order to develop and test new anti-biofilm agents (without the limitations of antibiotics), better methods to detect biofilms must be established. This study is an exciting opportunity to (1) establish a robust biofilm detection protocol for CRS patients; (2) test in the laboratory both efficacy and safety of novel anti-biofilm products.