Nancy Carty, Ph.D.
College of Osteopathic Medicine
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
1858 W. Grandview Blvd. Erie, PA 16509
Phone: (814) 866-8418
Dr. Carty is Assistant Director of Problem Based Learning, Director of Hematology/Oncology, Preclinical Review, and Director of Post-Baccalaureate Program. Her research examines the use of herbal essential oils and plant derivatives to prevent and/or treat pseudomonas aeruginosa infections. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a Gram-negative opportunistic pathogen that causes a wide array of human diseases ranging from pulmonary infections in people with cystic fibrosis to corneal infections in people who wear contact lenses. Wounds of all types, including those resulting from burns, surgery, and diabetes, are often infected by this microorganism. Patients often acquire these infections while they are in the hospital, which can lengthen their recovery time and increase the overall financial cost. P. aeruginosa is able to generate chronic, potentially deadly infections, due to the multitude of virulence factors it possesses. One of the most fascinating virulence factors is its ability to form a microbial biofilm. Biofilms are communities of microorganisms that are attached to a surface such as; rocks and detritus or in the case of human infections; tissue and catheters. One of the major issues concerning P. aeruginosa biofilm infections is their increased resistance to antibiotics. Identifying an essential oil or plant derivative that can inhibit biofilm formation may result in a clinical approach that can be used to prevent nosocomial infections. We have screened numerous essential oils to determine which oils prevent P. aeruginosa biofilm formation on polystyrene surfaces. Several oils have proved promising and we are testing them on clinical Pseudomonas strains, as well as determining the optimal efficacious concentrations. We are also testing the major chemical constituents of the effective oils to determine if a single component can be utilized. Along with their ability to prevent biofilm formation; we plan to examine if the oils can be used either alone or in conjunction with antibiotics to treat or degrade a mature biofilm. The escalating occurrence of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria worldwide emphasizes the need for new antibacterial strategies. Results from this project have potential clinical implications as well as possible industrial applications.