Prof. Banin's Lab
Infectious Disease Research
Prof. Ehud Banin, a returning scientist from the University of Washington, Seattle, is a Member of the Nano Cleantech Center at the Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials (BINA), and lecturer at the Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences.
Banin has shown how bacteria under attack by the immune system create biofilms, surface-associated bacterial communities encased in an extracellular polymeric matrix. Characterized by an innate resistance to immune system- and antibiotic-killing, microbial biofilms are a common and difficult-to-treat cause of medical infections.
By revealing the specific pattern of gene expression that allows harmful bacteria to band together and survive in biofilms, Banin is defining an important target in the ongoing fight against antibiotic resistance, as well as for the search for new treatments for biofilm-related diseases such as cystic fibrosis. His laboratory implements an array of physiological, biochemical, and genetic tools combined with novel technologies that allow controlled and reproducible biofilm growth to characterize bacterial biofilms and compare them to the non-biofilm communities.
Nanotechnology-Based Drug Discovery, Design and Delivery Research
The increase in bacterial antibiotic resistance is a major concern for clinicians and medical officials worldwide. Prof. Banin's research focuses on understanding the basic aspects of the signals and processes involved in biofilm development with a goal of finding new methods of treating biofilm-related infections.
Biofilms and Chronic Infections
It is estimated that 65% of the bacterial infections treated in hospitals are caused by bacterial biofilms. For example, chronic respiratory infections caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa in the cystic fibrosis (CF) lung as well as Staphylococcal lesions in endocarditis have been shown to be mediated by biofilms. In addition, biofilms are also a major cause of infections associated with medical implants mainly by Staphylococcus epidermidis, Staphylococcus aureus, and P. aeruginosa.
The number of implant-associated infections approaches 1 million/yr in the US alone and their direct medical costs exceed $3 billion annually. Clearly, there is an urgent need to discover innovative treatments for biofilm-associated infections. The current understanding of how biofilms develop and how they acquire increased resistance is still in its initial stages.
Iron and Biofilm Development
Iron is an essential element for most living organisms. Recent work has shown that iron concentration serve as a signal for biofilm development. Prof. Banin is using iron as a valuable “switch” to intervene at defined points in the biofilm process, and he can now better understand both the role iron plays in mediating biofilm formation and gain significant knowledge of the basic processes required for successful biofilm development and maintenance.
The genetic and genomic approaches Prof. Banin is taking are expected to reveal genes that are directly involved in biofilm formation and dispersal as well as genes involved in iron-regulation and signaling.
Areas of Interest
One of Banin's major objectives is to characterize how biofilms develop, with a focus on the role of iron as a signal in biofilm development. In addition, he would like to understand the mechanisms by which biofilms obtain increased resistance to antimicrobial therapy, and the role of inter- and intra-species cell-cell communication in mixed species biofilm interactions. The overriding goal of Banin's team is to discover novel compounds that effectively eradicate biofilms.