Nanotechnologies for control of pathogenic microbial biofilms

Evans O. Asare, Ellina A. Mun, Enrico Marsili, Vesselin N. Paunov

Research output: Journal PublicationReview articlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Biofilms are formed at interfaces by microorganisms, which congregate in microstructured communities embedded in a self-produced extracellular polymeric substance (EPS). Biofilm-related infections are problematic due to the high resistance towards most clinically used antimicrobials, which is associated with high mortality and morbidity, combined with increased hospital stays and overall treatment costs. Several new nanotechnology-based approaches have recently been proposed for targeting resistant bacteria and microbial biofilms. Here we discuss the impacts of biofilms on healthcare, food processing and packaging, and water filtration and distribution systems, and summarize the emerging nanotechnological strategies that are being developed for biofilm prevention, control and eradication. Combination of novel nanomaterials with conventional antimicrobial therapies has shown great potential in producing more effective platforms for controlling biofilms. Recent developments include antimicrobial nanocarriers with enzyme surface functionality that allow passive infection site targeting, degradation of the EPS and delivery of high concentrations of antimicrobials to the residing cells. Several stimuli-responsive antimicrobial formulation strategies have taken advantage of the biofilm microenvironment to enhance interaction and passive delivery into the biofilm sites. Nanoparticles of ultralow size have also been recently employed in formulations to improve the EPS penetration, enhance the carrier efficiency, and improve the cell wall permeability to antimicrobials. We also discuss antimicrobial metal and metal oxide nanoparticle formulations which provide additional mechanical factors through externally induced actuation and generate reactive oxygen species (ROS) within the biofilms. The review helps to bridge microbiology with materials science and nanotechnology, enabling a more comprehensive interdisciplinary approach towards the development of novel antimicrobial treatments and biofilm control strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5129-5153
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Materials Chemistry B
Issue number27
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • General Materials Science


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