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The Mechanisms of Tissue Destruction in Chronic Otitis due to Bacterial Biofilms

Our laboratory has focused on the reasons that individuals with chronic ear infections experience hearing loss and repeated, unrelenting infections. We have identified a number of strains of a type of bacteria that commonly cause ear infections (Pseudomonas aeruginosa). We have found that these bacteria form small colonies on surfaces called biofilms. Once the biofilms have formed, the bacteria become highly resistant to antibiotics and these infections are very difficult to eliminate. We study how and why these bacteria form biofilms and how we might prevent them. We use specialized culture methods to study the bacteria. We use methods of time-lapse photography, specialized stains and confocal microscopy. We modify some of the genes of these bacteria to study how each gene might contribute to biofilm formation. We also study these infections in animals using specialized scanning (microCT scans).