Earlier research by Hostetter’s team showed that heparin, when fed through central lines to prevent clotting, binds with the Candida albicans yeast that lives on and in all of us. Candida uses the binding to elude the body’s immune response and to form biofilms – communities of microorganisms that grow on the inside surface of the catheters. Biofilms are the first step in bloodstream infections with the yeast.
Hostetter and her team developed an antibody that prevents Candida albicans from binding with heparin and thereby stops biofilm formation in a rat model of catheter-associated infection.
“Understanding how the medications in catheters facilitate biofilm formation by microbes can lead to new strategies for prevention of line infections,”says Hostetter.
Her collaborators on the study included researchers from Duke University Medical Center, the University of Cincinnati, and the University of Wisconsin. When the antibody is modified to be compatible with humans, clinical trials of the treatment can begin in humans.