The Bryers Research Group investigates the molecular interactions that occur between bacteria and the immune system at the interface of implanted biomedical devices. As in the figure above, the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa (blue) are interacting with white blood cells - neutrophils (yellow) on the surface of a silicone implant.
Nosocomial infections are the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. with 2 million cases annually, leading to more than $5 billion in added medical cost per annum. About 60% of these infections are biofilms associated with some type of implanted medical device. Biofilms are surface-associated communities of microbial cells that are embedded in a microbe-generated extracellular matrix (EM) of polysaccharides, proteins, and DNA. The overall financial impact of biofilm-based infections is estimated to be in the tens of billion of dollars per year. Medical-device based infections are further complicated in that most, if not all, causative bacterial species are now resistant to multiple antibiotics.