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Research, Antimicrobial Resistance

ISGlobal Participates in Three Patents to Help Fight Microbial Resistance

Two of the patents arise from the European project NOMORFILM

Staphylococcus aureus biofilm
Photo: CDC

 What do gold complexes, chlorinated fatty acids or dendritic polymers have in common? The three compounds have the potential to advance the fight against hospital-associated infections. And the three of them have been patented by ISGlobal researcher Sara Soto and her collaborators.

The first patent stems from a project funded by the Spanish Health Research Fund (FIS) with the goal of developing new molecules to fight chronic infections in patients with cystic fibrosis. The patent, deposited by researchers at ISGlobal and the University of Almeria, concerns a series of gold (III) complexes, the process and modifications, and their uses. These gold complexes have a potent activity against multi-resistant bacteria and biofilms (bacterial communities that grow on different surfaces). “The advantage of this type of gold complexes is that they are highly effective against different microorganisms and have low toxicity,” says Sara Soto. The complex is in the so-called “hit and lead” phase, where a “hit” is modified to further improve its activity and toxicity.

The other two patents derive from the European project NOMORFILM, in which Sara Soto and her team screened hundreds of marine microalgae to find new molecules with antimicrobial properties. One of the patents concerns a series of molecules obtained from a cyanobacteria of the Sphaerospermopsis genus – chlorinated fatty acids with a hydrophilic domain that allow them to interact with water, which exhibit a high antibacterial activity against two of the main bacteria found in biofilm: Staphylococcus aureus and coagulase-negative staphylococci.  “These new chlorinated fatty acid lactylates have great potential against hospital-associated infections, with the added advantage that they come from natural sources,” says Soto. The goal of this patent is to describe the optimal culture conditions for the cyanobacteria and the method to extract such compounds.

The other patent, in which the University of Copenhagen, the University of Oviedo, the University of Almeria and the PyroGenesis company also participate, concerns dendritic polymers. Their chemical structure and properties make them an ideal vehicle for delivering active compounds, including antibiotics, as well as for covering metallic surfaces, where biofilms tend to form. The goal of the patent is to describe the preparation method of these structures and determine their uses. They have been successfully used to recover prosthetic material and avoid biofilm formation in vivo.