Biofilms are a sessile colony of bacteria which adhere to and persist on surfaces. The ability of bacteria to form biofilms is considered a virulence factor, and in fact is central to the pathogenesis of some organisms. Biofilms are inherently resistant to chemotherapy and host immune responses. Clinically, biofilms are considered a primary cause of a majority of infections, such as otitis media, pneumonia in cystic fibrosis patients and endocarditis. However, the vast majority of the data on biofilm formation comes from traditional microtiter-based or flow displacement assays with no consideration given to host factors. These assays, which have been a valuable tool in high-throughput screening for biofilm-related factors, do not mimic a host-pathogen interaction and may contribute to an inappropriate estimation of the role of some factors in clinical biofilm formation. We describe the development of a novel ex vivo model of biofilm formation on a mucosal surface by an important mucosal pathogen, methicillin resistant S. aureus (MRSA). This model is being used for the identification of microbial virulence factors important in mucosal biofilm formation and novel anti-biofilm therapies.
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