Small molecule control of bacterial biofilms
Bacterial biofilms are defined as a surface attached community of bacteria embedded in a matrix of extracellular polymeric substances that they have produced. When in the biofilm state, bacteria are more resistant to antibiotics and the host immune response than are their planktonic counterparts. Biofilms are increasingly recognized as being significant in human disease, accounting for 80% of bacterial infections in the body and diseases associated with bacterial biofilms include: lung infections of cystic fibrosis patients, colitis, urethritis, conjunctivitis, otitis, endocarditis and periodontitis. Additionally, biofilm infections of indwelling medical devices are of particular concern, as once the device is colonized infection is virtually impossible to eradicate. Given the prominence of biofilms in infectious diseases, there has been an increased effort toward the development of small molecules that will modulate bacterial biofilm development and maintenance. In this review, we highlight the development of small molecules that inhibit and/or disperse bacterial biofilms through non-microbicidal mechanisms. The review discuses the numerous approaches that have been applied to the discovery of lead small molecules that mediate biofilm development. These approaches are grouped into: (1) the identification and development of small molecules that target one of the bacterial signaling pathways involved in biofilm regulation, (2) chemical library screening for compounds with anti-biofilm activity, and (3) the identification of natural products that possess anti-biofilm activity, and the chemical manipulation of these natural products to obtain analogues with increased activity.