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Current Pharmaceutical Design


ISSN (Print): 1381-6128
ISSN (Online): 1873-4286

Review Article

Antimicrobial Synthetic Polymers: An Update on Structure-Activity Relationships

Author(s): Cansu Ergene and Edmund F. Palermo*

Volume 24, Issue 8, 2018

Page: [855 - 865] Pages: 11

DOI: 10.2174/1381612824666180213140732

Price: $65


The rising incidence of antibiotic-resistant infections, combined with a declining number of new antibiotic drug approvals, has generated an alarming therapeutic gap that critically undermines public health. Host Defense Peptides (HDPs), sometimes referred to as “Nature’s Antibiotics”, are short chain, amphiphilic and cationic peptide sequences found in all multicellular organisms as part of their innate immunity. While there is a vast diversity in terms of HDP sequence and secondary structure, they all seem to share physiochemical characteristics that can be appropriated for macromolecular design by the synthetic polymer chemist. Over the past decade, remarkable progress has been made in the design and synthesis of polymer-based materials that effectively mimic HDP action – broad-spectrum antibacterial potency, rapid bactericidal kinetics, and minimal toxicity to human cells – while offering the additional benefits of low cost, high scalability, and lower propensity to induce resistance, relative to their peptide-based counterparts. A broad range of different macromolecular structures and architectures have been explored in this design space, including polynorbornenes, poly(meth)acrylates, poly(meth)acrylamides, nylon-2 polymers, and polycarbonates, to name a just few. Across all of these diverse chemical categories, the key determinants of antibacterial and hemolytic activity are the same as in HDPs: net cationic charge at neutral pH, well-balanced facial amphiphilicity, and the molecular weight of the compounds. In this review, we focus in particular on recent progress in the polymethacrylate category first pioneered by Kuroda and DeGrado and later modified, expanded upon and rigorously optimized by Kuroda’s and many other groups. Key findings and future challenges will be highlighted.

Keywords: Antimicrobial, hemolytic, polymer, peptide, host defense, amphiphilic, cationic.

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