After almost five years screening marine microalgae to identify new molecules with antibacterial activity, the European project Nomorfilm comes to an end. “The results from this first cycle are very promising,” explains Sara Soto, ISGlobal researcher and project coordinator. “We have patented four compounds with antibacterial and antibiofilm activity. We have developed a new coating method using solid-like gels (or xerogels) as antibiotic carriers and we have succesfully tested them in animal models. We also developed a prototype of prosthetic device with rapid release of antibiotic, capable of eliminating bone infections in pigs.”
Fifteen institutions from nine European countries participated in the project, funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Programme, with the goal of analysing thousands of compounds isolated from marine microalgae and discovering novel molecules with activity against bacteria or biofilms (bacteria that stick to surfaces and are particularly resistant to antibiotics). The most promising compounds were then tested on prothesis, with the goal of reducing infections associated to this kind of implants. “The cost of treating complications due to infections after a prothesis implant is around 7 billion euros per year, only in Europe,” says Sara Soto.
Currently, several of the Nomorfilm researchers are applying to new European funding for a second phase of the project, which will continue searching for novel antibacterial and antibiofilm compounds isolated not only from microalgae but also from Antarctic bacteria. In addition, they are seeking funds to finalise the development of the prothesis and start clinical trials to test it in patients.