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Chronic middle ear infections linked to resistant biofilm bacteria

Direct evidence of bacterial biofilms has been found on the middle ear tissue of children who suffer from chronic ear infections, according to a study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) by researchers from the Allegheny Singer Research Institute (ASRI) at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, the Medical College of Wisconsin and Children's Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

Biofilms are antibiotic resistant colonizations of bacteria that attach to surfaces and form a slime-like barrier that acts as a formidable defense mechanism, protecting the bacteria from eradication.

The discovery of biofilms in the setting of chronic otitis media represents a landmark evolution in the medical community's understanding about a disease that afflicts millions of children world-wide each year and further endorses the emerging biofilm paradigm of chronic infectious disease, said Garth Ehrlich, Ph.D., principal investigator and executive director of the ASRI Center for Genomic Sciences.

Over the past ten years, Dr. Ehrlich and J. Christopher Post, M.D., Ph.D., FACS, an Allegheny General Hospital pediatric ear specialist and medical director of the Center for Genomic Sciences, have pioneered the biofilm theory to explain the persistence of chronic ear infections. In 2002, the team published in JAMA (Apr 2002; 287: 1710 1715) the first animal evidence of biofilms in the middle ear, setting the stage for the current clinical investigation.

According to co-investigator Joseph E. Kerschner M.D., "Today's study completely alters the concept about how physicians should approach the treatment of children with otitis media. This historic finding sheds new light on the decreasing efficacy of antibiotics in treating kids with ear infections and has serious implications about the future direction of therapeutic research." Dr. Kerschner is associate professor of otolaryngology at the Medical College and ch
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Contact: Toranj Marphetia
toranj@mcw.edu
414-456-4700
Medical College of Wisconsin
11-Jul-2006


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