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Secrets of bacterial slime revealed

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Newcastle University scientists have revealed the mechanism that causes a slime to form, making bacteria hard to shift and resistant to antibiotics.
When under threat, some bacteria can shield themselves in a slimy protective layer, known as a biofilm. It is made up of communities of bacteria held together to protect themselves from attack.

Biofilms cause dental plaque and sinusitis; in healthcare, biofilms can lead to life threatening and difficult to treat infections, particularly on medical implants such as catheters, heart valves, artificial hips and even breast implants. They also they coat the outside of ships and boats polluting the water.

Publishing in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the team reveal how a molecular switch regulates biofilm formation. This new understanding could help identify a new target for antibiotics and prevent other biofilms from forming.

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