Research: bacteriophages with depolymerase activity are effective against K. pneumoniae biofilm

A study by “Micromir” Research and Production Center has been published in Scientific Reports journal, demonstrating that bacteriophages can be used to combat biofilms of Friedlander's bacillus.
According to the results of in vitro experiments, bacteriophages, both individually and as part of a cocktail, significantly reduced microbial titers and disrupted their biofilm, demonstrating potential as a preventive measure.
Klebsiella bacteria, especially Klebsiella pneumoniae, can cause numerous infections, ranging from liver abscesses to bloodstream and urinary tract infections. They are especially dangerous for patients in medical institutions since they can lead to the spread of nosocomial pneumonia, and also ventilator-associated pneumonia.

Multi-resistant strains reduce the efficiency of antibiotics, and their hypervirulence and ability to form biofilms on medical equipment (catheters, tubes, and so on) complicates treatment. The biofilm of Klebsiella pneumoniae is a polymeric structure composed of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), proteins, and polysaccharides. It shields bacterial cells, facilitates the transfer of mobile genetic elements, and additionally increases microbial tolerance to antibiotics. Patients on long-term life support are particularly at risk of infections.

One promising approach to combat biofilms is bacteriophage application. They have already demonstrated effectiveness against antibiotic-resistant causative agents of nosocomial pneumonia. Moreover, due to the presence of polysaccharide depolymerases, some phages are capable of breaking down the polysaccharide matrix and reaching the bacterial cell membrane.

In a new study published in Scientific Reports journal, scientists from Micromir Research and Production Center investigated the action of a cocktail of three bacteriophages with depolymerase activity against antibiotic-resistant strains of Klebsiella pneumoniae. Biofilms were examined using optical and scanning electron microscopy.

The results show that the tested set of bacteriophages was capable of successfully disrupting K. pneumoniae biofilms both as part of a cocktail and individually, significantly reducing bacterial titers. Additionally, the use of the cocktail is more effective in preventing bacterial resistance to phages. Scientists also note the potential for treating medical equipment with a phage solution to prevent the emergence of biofilms.

Zurabov, F., Glazunov, E., Kochetova, T. et al. Bacteriophages with depolymerase activity in the control of antibiotic resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae biofilms. Sci Rep 13, 15188 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-42505-3

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