Gallium Against Bacterial Biofilms

Gallium Against Bacterial Biofilms

Author: Lisa-Marie Rauschendorfer

Bacteria in wounds often grow within biofilms, which are structured communities of bacteria encased by polymeric matrices. In these films, bacteria are highly tolerant to antimicrobial agents. Ga3+ has been shown to provide an effective treatment: Ga3+, which is chemically similar to Fe3+, blocks Fe3+ binding sites on redox proteins. These proteins are indispensable for bacterial growth and also for the biofilm formation.

However, Ga3+ has two drawbacks: a concentration above 36 μM is highly toxic for mammalian cells and Ga3+ forms insoluble precipitates (Ga(OH)3) under physiological conditions, reducing its bioavailability.

Nicholas L. Abbott, University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA, and colleagues designed a microfilm comprising a polyelectrolyte layer of poly(allylaminehydrochloride) and poly(acrylic acid) containing Ga(NO3)3 and a mechanically robust poly(vinylalcohol) film. This film is then used to functionalize the surface of wound dressings. The polymeric film steadily releases Ga3+ in noncytotoxic concentrations over 20 days and effectively disperses existing biofilms, as well as prevents the formation of new bacterial biofilms.


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