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Slime-busting Salt

A potential new treatment gets bacteria deep in their hiding places
May 1, 2015
Slime-busting Salt

Biofilms are made of bacteria and secreted proteins, DNA, and sugars that together create a slimelike substance that helps them adhere to one another and to a surface.

“Like a Trojan horse, we expected the salt to act as a carrier, delivering antibiotics to the bacteria inside the biofilm. The surprise was that the salt also acted as an antimicrobial itself,” says Los Alamos scientist David Fox.

Los Alamos scientists and collaborators have shown that an innocuous substance, a molten salt called choline-geranate, can physically disrupt biofilms and facilitate drug delivery. Biofilms are made from secreted proteins, DNA, and sugars, together making a slimelike substance that helps bacteria adhere to one another and to a surface. They provide a secure environment that protects the organisms from dangers—especially antibiotics. The new approach using a molten salt holds great promise for treating these difficult infections as it has been shown to disrupt biofilms effectively to deliver treatment and even acts as an antimicrobial agent itself.