The European Commission has awarded funding to a project whose main goal is to find new biomolecules derived from marine microalgae and that can inhibit the formation of bacterial and fungal biofilms. The European project forms part of the Blue Growth call from the Horizon2020 programme, whose goal is to unlock the potential of seas and oceans via the discovery of new marine-derived biomolecules. Dr. Sara M. Soto, from ISGlobal, will coordinate the project that will officially start on April 1st and in which fifteen public and private institutions from nine different countries, and more than 50 people, will participate. The awarded budget is of more than 7 million euros, for four years.
The goal of the project, named NOMORFILM, is to identify bioactive compounds from marine microalgae that display anti-bacterial biofilm activity, and use such molecules for the manufacture of prosthetic devices. More than 4,000 different species of microalgae will be screened for new antibacterial and antibiofilm molecules that will then be tested in animal models. Sustainable biosynthesis of these compounds using microalgae cultures that mimic natural aquatic ecosystems will be tested. The most industrially attractive molecules will be incorporated in nanoparticles and, in collaboration with small and medium-sized enterprises, will be used in the manufacture of prosthetic devices.
Biofilms are bacterial communities that grow on an inert surface or live tissue and is the most frequent state of bacteria in nature. Biofilm formation is especially important in infections and tissue inflammation related to implants and catheters. These problems finally cause a release of the implant, which must be removed and replaced by a new one, entailing an increase in antibiotic consumption, together with a health costs of about 50,000 to 90,000 € per infection episode. With the ageing population in Europe, the number of prosthetic devices and thus the cost associated to their infection will increase. Therefore, finding new anti-microbial compounds that efficiently control biofilm growth is a priority in the clinical practice.