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Thomas Bjarnsholt

Thomas Bjarnsholt


Primary fields of research

The role of bacterial and fungal biofilms in chronic infections

Current research

Basically, bacteria display two life forms during growth and proliferation. In one form, the bacteria appear as single, independent cells (planktonic), and in the other form bacteria are organised in sessile aggregates. The latter form is commonly referred to as the biofilm phenotype. Acute infections are assumed to involve planktonic bacteria, and are generally treatable with antibiotics, though successful treatment depends on accurate and fast diagnosis. However, in cases where the bacteria succeed in forming a biofilm within the human host, the infection often turns out to be untreatable and will develop into a chronic state. The important hallmark of chronic, biofilm-based infections is extreme resistance to antibiotics, as well as a number of other conventional antimicrobial agents and an extreme capacity to evade the host defense. In addition, since the bacteria in chronic infections are aggregated, resistance genes can be passed from one bacterium to the other.

We study the role of bacterial and fungal biofilms in chronic infections both in vitro, animal models and ex vivo material from chronic infections. Our interests are how bacteria initiate biofilms in the human body and why the immune defense seems to fail both in the initial infection and later in the chronic infection. What is the prevalence of bacteria and fungus on implants in general? What is the activity of the microbes in chronic infections and which species are present? We also seek to develop tools and methods to enable fast diagnosis of these infections, for better treatment and possible prevention.

The projects are in close collaboration with clinicians at most of the major hospitals in Denmark.

Projects focussed on these issues are currently funded by: Lundbeckfonden, RegionHovedstadens Udviklingsfond, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Gerda og Aage Haenschs Fond and Human Frontier Science Project.

Possible conflicts of interest

I am an consultant for:

1) Smith and Nephew

2) SoftOx

3) Novo Nordisk A/S

ID: 9755066