Aimee Newsham, Dixie State University
Millions of people are infected yearly with resistant pathogens, including MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), a biofilm-forming pathogen that is often transferred to patients from contaminated surfaces. Therefore, improved methods to destroy biofilm-encapsulated pathogens or to prevent their initial formation are required. This research is focused on the development of a safe treatment against biofilms by integrating organic salts, or ionic liquids (ILs), into different surfaces. Textiles were integrated with ILs to prevent formation of biofilms/bacterial growth, and were also treated post-exposure to determine if the biofilms could be destroyed post-contamination. Effectiveness of newly designed ILs were tested via inhibition zone studies on LB agar plates, and post-treatment samples were analyzed via scanning electron microscopy for presence of bacteria. The bacteria tested included Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus epidermidis, and Escherichia coli. These microbes are similar to MRSA in that they form biofilms comprised of extracellular proteins, DNA and polysaccharides. Bacterial colonies encapsulate themselves with biofilms to provide protection from threats, including antibacterial drugs. By integrating ionic liquids into textiles, formation can be prevented by IL solvation and sequestering of the extracellular biofilm components, including the proteins and DNA. This research could have tremendous implications regarding defeating bacteria that are resistant to existing treatments due to biofilm encapsulation. Additionally, the results could lead to new antimicrobial textiles and new approaches to prevent adherence and growth resistant biofilm-encapsulated pathogens.