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Open AccessReview

Approaches to Dispersing Medical Biofilms

Departments of Surgery, Immunology and Molecular Microbiology, and the TTUHSC Burn Center of Research Excellence, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Lubbock, TX 79430, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Gianfranco Donelli and Claudia Vuotto
Microorganisms 2017, 5(2), 15;
Received: 27 February 2017 / Revised: 22 March 2017 / Accepted: 31 March 2017 / Published: 1 April 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microbial Biofilms and Human Infections)
PDF [447 KB, uploaded 1 April 2017]


Biofilm-associated infections pose a complex problem to the medical community, in that residence within the protection of a biofilm affords pathogens greatly increased tolerances to antibiotics and antimicrobials, as well as protection from the host immune response. This results in highly recalcitrant, chronic infections and high rates of morbidity and mortality. Since as much as 80% of human bacterial infections are biofilm-associated, many researchers have begun investigating therapies that specifically target the biofilm architecture, thereby dispersing the microbial cells into their more vulnerable, planktonic mode of life. This review addresses the current state of research into medical biofilm dispersal. We focus on three major classes of dispersal agents: enzymes (including proteases, deoxyribonucleases, and glycoside hydrolases), antibiofilm peptides, and dispersal molecules (including dispersal signals, anti-matrix molecules, and sequestration molecules). Throughout our discussion, we provide detailed lists and summaries of some of the most prominent and extensively researched dispersal agents that have shown promise against the biofilms of clinically relevant pathogens, and we catalog which specific microorganisms they have been shown to be effective against. Lastly, we discuss some of the main hurdles to development of biofilm dispersal agents, and contemplate what needs to be done to overcome them. View Full-Text
Keywords: biofilm; dispersal; dispersal agent biofilm; dispersal; dispersal agent

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Fleming, D.; Rumbaugh, K.P. Approaches to Dispersing Medical Biofilms. Microorganisms 2017, 5, 15.

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