Role of Biofilms in Antimicrobial Resistance

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Biofilms are formed by a spectrum of microorganisms, including pathogens, and provide a means for these organisms to protect themselves against antimicrobial agents. Several mechanisms have been proposed to explain this phenomenon of resistance within biofilms, including delayed penetration of the antimicrobial into the biofilm extracellular matrix, slowing of growth rate of organisms within the biofilm, or other physiologic changes brought about by interaction of the organisms with a surface. The practical implications of biofilm formation are that alternative control strategies must be devised both for testing the susceptibility of the organisms within the biofilm and treating the established biofilm to alter its structure. A number of testing protocols have been developed. Effective treatment strategies will incorporate antimicrobials or other agents that have been demonstrated to penetrate and kill biofilm organisms, or treatments that disrupt or target specific components of the biofilm matrix. A better understanding of the role of biofilms in infection and how in vivo biofilms respond to selected treatments requires more study.

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