Novel Biofilm Removal Strategies

One traditional approach to eliminate biofilm formation within an engineered system is to prevent cell adhesion. One such anti-cell adhesion approach used in the biomedical materials sector focuses on modification of the surface chemical properties of the substratum by various methods including photochemical coupling of benzephenone derivatives of polyethylene glycol, polyacrylamide, and poly vinyl pyrrolidone (97); passive adsorption of pluronic surfactants (copolymers of polyethylene oxide and polypropylene oxide) to polystyrene (98); incorporation of polyethylene oxide into the upper layers of polyethylene terephthalate by solvent swelling (99); and a series of neutral, anionic, and cationic surfactants adsorbed onto stainless steel or glass (100). Rather than prevent adhesion, one alternative control approach for biomedical materials is to retard surface microbial activity by incorporating within the substratum a slowly released antibiotic agent (20,101,106).

Remedial approaches to eliminate or eradicate fouling biofilms existing in nonmedical engineered systems consist of mechanical cleaning, materials or unit replacement, or chemical biocide challenges (107). One novel alternative to chemical antagonism of a biofilm has been to eliminate an nutrient essential for microbial growth (108). In the petrochemical, refining, and power industries, either oxidants (chlorine, ozone, bromides) or biocides are employed regularly to suppress biofouling of water-cooled heat exchangers; biocides prove mostly ineffective in that they inactivate the bacterial cells but, unlike oxidants, are incapable of eliminating the source of the system inefficiencies, the biofilm matrix.

One of the most innovative technologies to control detrimental biofilm formation was reported by Wood et al. (109). Substrata containing layers of copper and cobalt phthalocyanine catalysts were constructed for bacterial adhesion trials. These immobilized catalysts serve to promote the formation of active oxygen species from various oxidizing agents such as peroxide or persulfates. Biofilms on the treated catalytic surfaces were exposed to various concentrations of hydrogen peroxide. Generation of antibacterial oxidant concentrations right at the interface of the substrata aided in the almost complete removal of biofilm.

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