• Article

Anti-biofilm compounds derived from marine sponges

Bacterial biofilms are surface-attached communities of microorganisms that are protected by an extracellular matrix of biomolecules. In the biofilm state, bacteria are significantly more resistant to external assault, including attack by antibiotics. In their native environment, bacterial biofilms underpin costly biofouling that wreaks havoc on shipping, utilities, and offshore industry. Within a host environment, they are insensitive to antiseptics and basic host immune responses. It is estimated that up to 80% of all microbial infections are biofilm-based. Biofilm infections of indwelling medical devices are of particular concern, since once the device is colonized, infection is almost impossible to eliminate. Given the prominence of biofilms in infectious diseases, there is a notable effort towards developing small, synthetically available molecules that will modulate bacterial biofilm development and maintenance. Here, we highlight the development of small molecules that inhibit and/or disperse bacterial biofilms specifically through non-microbicidal mechanisms. Importantly, we discuss several sets of compounds derived from marine sponges that we are developing in our labs to address the persistent biofilm problem. We will discuss: discovery/synthesis of natural products and their analogues-including our marine sponge-derived compounds and initial adjuvant activity and toxicological screening of our novel anti-biofilm compounds.


Stowe, S., Richards, J., Tucker, AT., Thompson, R., Melander, C., & Cavanagh, J. (2011). Anti-biofilm compounds derived from marine sponges. Marine Drugs, 9(10), 2010-2035. https://doi.org/10.3390/md9102010

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