Biofilms have been found to be involved in a wide variety of infections in the body, by one estimate 80% of all infections. Biofilms form on indwelling medical devices such as catheters, artificial heart valves, prosthetic joints and internal fracture fixation devices and often cause severe, chronic infections. Strategies to overcome such infections are currently rather unsuccessful. The BALI program is an EU-funded Collaborative Project to investigate and improve treatment strategies for implant-associated infections. The project started Oct 1st 2011.

Why was this project funded by the EU?

Approximately 3% of all patients receiving implants develop biofilm associated infections. For example, in the UK there are an estimated 86,000 hip fractures annually in the UK and deep infection rates of between 1.3% and 3.6% have been reported. The presence of a deep infection in hip fracture cases resulted in a doubling of operative costs, a tripling of investigation costs and a quadrupling of ward costs. In the US annually approximately 100.000 implanted fracture fixation devices become infected. The associated costs are estimated at $1.5 billion.

In the next decades the use of such medical devices will grow considerably mainly because of demographic changes due to an ever increasing elderly population, resulting in an increased number of patients suffering infections with even more increasing antimicrobial resistance.

How will we fight biofilm related infections?

The BALI program brings together leading research groups from various European countries as well as from Israel. The coordinator of this consortium is dr. Bas Zaat from the Academic Medical Center at the University of Amsterdam. The network has funding for a period of five years (2011-2016) from Framework 7 Program (FP7) of the European Union The BALI consortium employs a wide range of complementary approaches to study how biofilm formation on implants can be prevented.