Scientists at the University of Texas at San Antonio and the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research at Fort Sam Houston have developed a microarray platform for culturing fungal biofilms, and validated one potential application of the technology to identify new drugs effective against Candida albicans biofilms.
The nano-scale platform technology could one day be used for rapid drug discovery for treatment of any number of fungal or bacterial infections, according to the authors, or even as a rapid clinical test to identify antibiotic drugs that will be effective against a particular infection.
"Even though we have used the antifungal concept for development, it is a universal tool," says co-author Jose Lopez-Ribot of the University of Texas at San Antonio. "It opens a lot of possibilities as a new platform for microbial culture. Any time you need large numbers of cultures, this has a big advantage over other methods."
"The possibility exists to use this same technology for pretty much any other organism," he says.
Microbiology and medicine have become increasingly reliant on micro- and nano-scale technologies because of the increased speed and efficiency they can offer, but until now the cultivation of microorganisms has mostly been conducted on larger scales, in flasks and in trays called micro-titer plates. The microarray technology enables the user to rapidly compare hundreds or thousands of individual cultures of bacteria or fungi, a big benefit in the search for new drugs to treat infections. And like many nano-scale techniques, the nano-culture approach described in the mBio® study is also automated, a feature that saves time, improves reproducibility, and prevents some types of user error.
To test the technique, the authors embedded cells of the opportunistic pathogen C. albicans in each of the 1,200 tiny dots of alginate on the surface of the microarray. Under the microscope, these nano-biofilms of C. albicans, each of which was only 30 nanoliters, exhibited the same growth habits and other outward characteristics as conventional, macroscopic biofilms, and achieved maximum metabolic activity within 12 hours. The tiny cultures were then treated with a wide range of candidate drugs from the National Cancer Institute library, or with different FDA-approved, off-patent antifungal drugs in combination with FK506, an immunosuppressant, for identifying individual or synergistic combinations of compounds effective against biofilm infections. Co-author Anand Ramasubramanian of the University of Texas at San Antonio says that the tests prove the utility of the technology in screening combinations of drugs.
"The antifungal screening results were similar to results in larger macroscale techniques. That gives us confidence that it could be used as a tool to replace existing techniques," says Ramasubramanian.
Going forward, Ramasubramanian says he and his colleagues are testing the microarrays with polymicrobial cultures - mixtures of fungi and bacteria - to see whether the technology can be used to explore treatments for mixed infections. They are also exploring clinical applications for the technique, testing patient samples against an array of drugs or combinations of drugs to develop tailored therapies.
Lopez-Ribot says their microarray technique is just the latest development in a decades-long trend toward the tiny in science. "Things are moving toward smaller scale, more powerful techniques. You don't need millions of cells for these assays like we used to - maybe a few cells will do."
mBio® is an open access online journal published by the American Society for Microbiology to make microbiology research broadly accessible. The focus of the journal is on rapid publication of cutting-edge research spanning the entire spectrum of microbiology and related fields. It can be found online at http://mbio.asm.org.
The American Society for Microbiology is the largest single life science society, composed of over 39,000 scientists and health professionals. ASM's mission is to advance the microbiological sciences as a vehicle for understanding life processes and to apply and communicate this knowledge for the improvement of health and environmental and economic well-being worldwide.
Jim Sliwa | EurekAlert!
More genes are active in high-performance maize
19.01.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
How plants see light
19.01.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine
19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy