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PLoS Comput Biol. 2018 May 3;14(5):e1006071. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1006071. eCollection 2018 May.

Predictive modelling of a novel anti-adhesion therapy to combat bacterial colonisation of burn wounds.

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School of Mathematics, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, United Kingdom.
Institute of Microbiology and Infection, School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, United Kingdom.
Department of Surgery, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, United States of America.
Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, University of Texas McGovern Medical School at Houston, Houston, Texas, United States of America.


As the development of new classes of antibiotics slows, bacterial resistance to existing antibiotics is becoming an increasing problem. A potential solution is to develop treatment strategies with an alternative mode of action. We consider one such strategy: anti-adhesion therapy. Whereas antibiotics act directly upon bacteria, either killing them or inhibiting their growth, anti-adhesion therapy impedes the binding of bacteria to host cells. This prevents bacteria from deploying their arsenal of virulence mechanisms, while simultaneously rendering them more susceptible to natural and artificial clearance. In this paper, we consider a particular form of anti-adhesion therapy, involving biomimetic multivalent adhesion molecule 7 coupled polystyrene microbeads, which competitively inhibit the binding of bacteria to host cells. We develop a mathematical model, formulated as a system of ordinary differential equations, to describe inhibitor treatment of a Pseudomonas aeruginosa burn wound infection in the rat. Benchmarking our model against in vivo data from an ongoing experimental programme, we use the model to explain bacteria population dynamics and to predict the efficacy of a range of treatment strategies, with the aim of improving treatment outcome. The model consists of two physical compartments: the host cells and the exudate. It is found that, when effective in reducing the bacterial burden, inhibitor treatment operates both by preventing bacteria from binding to the host cells and by reducing the flux of daughter cells from the host cells into the exudate. Our model predicts that inhibitor treatment cannot eliminate the bacterial burden when used in isolation; however, when combined with regular or continuous debridement of the exudate, elimination is theoretically possible. Lastly, we present ways to improve therapeutic efficacy, as predicted by our mathematical model.

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