Broad-spectrum and Highly Selective Antimicrobial and Antiviral Macromolecular Assemblies that Mitigate Resistance
Each year, approximately 2 million people in the U.S. suffer from nosocomial infections, 4.5% of which lead to death. Diagnosis and treatment are tricky, due to the complexity of biofilm composition, difficulty to fully eradicate biofilms, and emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria strains. We developed antimicrobial polymers that have potent antimicrobial activity and high selectivity over mammalian cells. The polymers demonstrated high antimicrobial efficacy against clinically-isolated multidrug-resistant microbes and in a mouse skin model, yet exhibited superior biocompatibility compared to other clinically used surgical scrubs. Unlike small molecular antibiotics, repeated use of our polymer does not induce drug resistance.
We also recently developed coating materials that successfully inhibited the attachment of bacteria on substrates, with up to 90% reduction of the metabolic activity of S. Aureus after a 7-day incubation period. Viral infections also pose an eminent global public health problem, because of a rapid increase in human population, aging, global warming, and immunosuppressive medical treatments. The rapid mutation of viruses, due to inherent genomic instability, complicates the design of efficient antiviral drugs and vaccines that won’t garner resistance. We recently developed a general strategy to prevent viral infection using multi-functional macromolecules. Virus-binding assay using representative RNA and DNA-based, as well as enveloped and non-enveloped viruses, including Dengue, Influenza, Chikungunya, Enterovirus 71, Ebola, Marburg and Herpes, demonstrated a significant reduction in infection. The polymer complexes with immune cells and viral surface proteins both via electrostatic and H-bonding interactions, as evidenced by molecular docking computations. The antiviral mechanism is based on non-specific supramolecular interactions between the amino acid residues and moieties of the macromolecule, allowing the formation of the viral/polymer and polymer/cell assemblies, regardless of viral mutation, preventing drug resistance development. In this talk, I will discuss both technical advances in research as well as career paths and opportunities at IBM Almaden Research Center (ARC). ARC’s research community focuses on solving problems across areas as diverse as nanomedicine, data science, atomic scale storage, food safety and medical image analytics.