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Anti-biofilm peptides: Potential as broad-spectrum agents.


The treatment of bacterial diseases is facing twin threats with increasing bacterial antibiotic resistance and relatively few novel compounds or strategies under development or entering the clinic. Bacteria frequently grow on surfaces as biofilm communities encased in a polymeric matrix. The biofilm mode of growth is associated with 65-80% of all clinical infections. It causes broad adaptive changes, and biofilm bacteria are especially (10- to 1000-fold) resistant to conventional antibiotics and to date no antimicrobials have been developed specifically to treat biofilms. Small synthetic peptides with broad-spectrum anti-biofilm activity represent a novel approach to treat biofilm-related infections. Recent developments have provided evidence that these peptides can inhibit even developed biofilms, kill multiple bacterial species in biofilms including the ESKAPE pathogens, show strong synergy with several antibiotics, and act by targeting a universal stress response in bacteria. Thus, these peptides represent a promising alternative treatment to conventional antibiotics and work effectively in animal models of biofilm-associated infections.