Technological watch

Engineering antimicrobial supramolecular polymer assemblies

Antibacterial resistance against conventional antibiotics has emerged as a global health problem. To address this problem, antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) have been recognized as alternatives due to their fast?killing activity and less propensity to induce resistance. Here, the AMPs are engineered via a supramolecular fashion to control and increase their biological performance. The AMPs are modified with ureido?pyrimidinone (UPy) to obtain UPy?AMP monomers, followed by modular self?assembling to realize antibacterial UPy?AMP supramolecular polymers. These positively charged assemblies are illustrated as stable, short fibrous or rod?like UPy?AMP nanostructures with enhanced antibacterial activity and modulable cytotoxicity. Moreover, these antibacterial UPy?AMP assemblies can be internalized by both THP?1 derived macrophages and human kidney cells, which would be an effective potential therapy to deliver the AMPs into mammalian cells to address intracellular infections. Overall, the results present here demonstrate that supramolecular engineering of AMPs provides a powerful tool to enhance the antibacterial activity, modulate cytotoxicity and accelerate the clinical application of AMPs.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 870292.