Materials Science

Antibiotic screening via membrane disruption

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Science  21 Sep 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6408, pp. 1212
DOI: 10.1126/science.361.6408.1212-b

Some antibiotics destroy harmful bacteria by disrupting their membranes. Pitsalidis et al. used a monolayer of lipids as an analog for the membrane in a device designed to measure membrane destruction. The layer is tethered to the surface of an organic electrochemical transducer, where it forms an insulating barrier. The introduction of an antibiotic, such as polymyxin B, disrupts the phospholipids, causing a flux of ions that can be measured as an electrical signal. The authors show that their device can discern molecular-scale differences in the disruption capabilities of two amine-based oligothioetheramide isomers that show a fivefold difference in antibacterial activity. Thus, their device may find use as a tool to screen for new antibiotics.

Adv. Mater. 10.1002/adma.201803130 (2018).

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