We are exploiting nature’s biocatalytic defense mechanisms to combat microbial and viral infections, overcome bacterial resistance mechanisms, and applying our approach to surfaces within common infrastructures, including hospitals, schools, food processing facilities, etc. Our approach involves two classes of enzymes; peptidoglycan hydrolases and oxidative biocatalysts. The former are lytic enzymes, which are extremely selective and do not require reagents apart from water to act. The oxidative enzymes, including oxidases, peroxidases and perhydrolases, are generally nonselective and require addition of reagents to catalyze their microbicidal activity. In both classes, these enzymes can be used in their soluble form or embedded into materials that can be used to coat surfaces and kill bacteria on contact. We are also developing various routes to novel antivirals, including broad-based coronavirus inactivation based on perhydrolases and sulfated polysaccharides.
Broad-spectrum antibiotics indiscriminately kill bacteria, removing non-pathogenic microorganisms and leading to evolution of antibiotic resistant strains. Specific antimicrobials that could selectively kill pathogenic bacteria without targeting other bacteria in the natural microbial community or microbiome may be able to address this concern.