Searching for new strategies against polymicrobial biofilm infections: guanylated polymethacrylates kill mixed fungal/bacterial biofilms

Yue Qu, Katherine E S Locock, Jiyoti Verma-Gaur, Iain D Hay, Laurence Meagher, Ana Traven

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVES: Biofilm-related human infections have high mortality rates due to drug resistance. Cohabitation of diverse microbes in polymicrobial biofilms is common and these infections present additional challenges for treatment compared with monomicrobial biofilms. Here, we address this therapeutic gap by assessing the potential of a new class of antimicrobial agents, guanylated polymethacrylates, in the treatment of polymicrobial biofilms built by two prominent human pathogens, the fungus Candida albicans and the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. METHODS: We used imaging and quantitative methods to test the antibiofilm efficacy of guanylated polymethacrylates, a new class of drugs that structurally mimic antimicrobial peptides. We further compared guanylated polymethacrylates with first-line antistaphylococcal and anti-Candida agents used as combinatorial therapy against polymicrobial biofilms. RESULTS: Guanylated polymethacrylates were highly effective as a sole agent, killing both C. albicans and S. aureus when applied to established polymicrobial biofilms. Furthermore, they outperformed multiple combinations of current antimicrobial drugs, with one of the tested compounds killing 99.98 of S. aureus and 82.2 of C. albicans at a concentration of 128 mg/L. The extracellular biofilm matrix provided protection, increasing the MIC of the polymethacrylates by 2-4-fold when added to planktonic assays. Using the C. albicans bgl2DeltaDelta mutant, we implicate matrix polysaccharide beta-1,3 glucan in the mechanism of protection. Data for two structurally distinct polymers suggest that this mechanism could be minimized through chemical optimization of the polymer structure. Finally, we demonstrate that a potential application for these polymers is in antimicrobial lock therapy. CONCLUSIONS: Guanylated polymethacrylates are a promising lead for the development of an effective monotherapy against C. albicans/S. aureus polymicrobial biofilms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-421
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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