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ACS Chem Biol. 2011 Jun 17;6(6):590-9. doi: 10.1021/cb100413w. Epub 2011 Mar 17.

Antibacterial studies of cationic polymers with alternating, random, and uniform backbones.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-3400, United States.


Antibacterial polymers have potential as pharmaceuticals and as coatings for implantation devices. The design of these materials will be optimized when we have a complete understanding of the structural features that impart activity toward target organisms and those that are benign with respect to the mammalian host. In this work, four series of polymers in which cationic and hydrophobic groups were distributed along the backbone were tested against six different bacterial species (both Gram-positive and Gram-negative) and for host cytotoxicities (red blood cell lysis). The most effective of the polymers studied are regularly spaced, featuring a 6-8 carbon stretch along the backbone between side chains that present positively charged groups. They cause potassium efflux, disorder the bacterial cytoplasmic membrane, and disrupt the membrane potential. These polymers, available from alternating ring-opening metathesis polymerization (AROMP), offer proof of principle for the importance of regular spacing in antibacterial polymers and for the synthesis of additional functional materials based on regularly spaced scaffolds.

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