Towards novel anti-infective with enhanced wound-healing for diabetic foot infections : Co2 releasing star shaped micro biocidal polymers

It is estimated that 422 million people worldwide are living with diabetes and among them, a common and serious problem is the development of diabetic foot infection. One in five patients with diabetes are hospitalised with a diabetic foot wound (DFW) at least once in their lives. Infected DFWs are treated by removal of infected tissue and intravenous antibiotics against the infecting pathogens. However, antibiotic treatment often fails due to underlying complications of diabetes such as poor blood flow to the foot and a weakened immune system. In this environment, the infecting bacteria form highly protected communities (biofilms) that are even more difficult to treat with antibiotics. One in five patients with infected DFW have lower limb amputations due to medical treatment failure. Novel ways to effectively treat infections of DFW, close the wounds created and restore function are urgently needed. Ideally, such treatments should kill the bacteria that cause these infections when applied locally to the infected foot and deliver long-lasting healing for effective wound closure. Here we will develop and evaluate specialised dual-action antimicrobial polymers as an externally-applied treatment for chronic infected DFWs. The antimicrobial polymers are composed of positively-charged proteins called peptides, arranged in a star-shape. We already know that star-shaped antimicrobial polymers kill a range of bacteria. Additional anti-bacterial capacity will be built into the star-shaped antimicrobial polymers by chemically attaching units that can release controlled amounts of carbon monoxide (CO) if a light source is applied. CO, although better known for its toxicity at high concentrations, has many of the therapeutic properties needed to effectively treat infected DFWs such as anti-biofilm, anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties.

Award Date
28 June 2018
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Dr Deirdre Fitzgerald-Hughes
Host Institution
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
MRCG-HRB Joint Funding Scheme