Novel Ways to Attack Biofilm Developed

April 1, 2009

A research team led by professor Markus Haapasalo at the Division of Endodontics, UBC Faculty of Dentistry, has reported exciting news about the progress of their focus on eradicating oral biofilms.

Biofilms are thin, “sticky” films of bacteria that are responsible for development of all-too-familiar diseases such as caries (decay), gum infections and root canal infections.

The challenge with biofilms is that microbes embedded in these structures are very resistant to efforts to remove or kill them. Haapasalo’s team has used a synergistic approach to attack biofilms, with promising results.

“We are hitting the target (biofilm) from several directions simultaneously. By combining known and new agents, we are creating a synergistic effect that wears down the defence of the biofilm more effectively than commonly used disinfecting agents alone.”

Laser confocal microscopy images of biofilm

Laser confocal microscopy images of biofilm before and after treatment. Green colour shows viable bacteria, while the red colour shows bacteria that have been killed. Photo by Dr. Ya Shen.

Laser confocal microscopy images of biofilm before and after treatment. Green colour shows viable bacteria, while the red colour shows bacteria that have been killed. Photo by  Dr. Ya Shen

The team is working together with industry, which has resulted in promising improvements in the performance of some commercially available products—and a patent application.

“There has been interest from both North American and European companies, which has resulted in active collaborations,” says Haapasalo.

He hopes that the new innovations will further advance research efforts at UBC Faculty of Dentistry and positively impact the daily work done by dentists in the prevention and treatment of oral infectious diseases.