Antimicrobial Polymers

One of the greatest challenges to modern medicine today is posed by a foe that has plagued humanity for ages- microbial pathogens. Since the introduction of penicillin in the 1940’s, fatalities as a result of bacterial infection have been dramatically reduced. However, in recent decades, the threat of untreatable infections has been increasing in large part because of the overuse and/or misuse of antibiotics that have resulted in the rise of resistant bacteria and because of a lack of interest in novel antibiotic discovery that has resulted in a slowdown of novel antibiotics approved for clinical use. Within the Joy research group, we are addressing this urgent need for new and innovative tools for combating microbes by applying polymers synthesized from our library of modular monomers and photoresponsive monomers towards antimicrobial coatings and water-soluble antimicrobials. The coatings are assembled using our photoresponsive monomers in combination with other monomers to synthesize polymers whose properties can be modulated with UV-light exposure. The water-soluble polymers are inspired by naturally occurring host defense peptides and are capable of selectively killing bacteria while leaving mammalian cells unaffected. By using our tailorable monomers, we are capable of applying our polymers to a wide variety of antimicrobial applications.


  1. Chamsaz, E. A.; Mankoci, S.; Barton, H. A.; Joy, A.  Non-toxic Cationic Coumarin Polyester Coatings Prevent Pseudomonas aeruginosa Biofilm Formation    ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 20179, 6704
  2. Mankoci, S.; Kaiser, R.; Sahai, N.; Barton, H. A.; Joy, A. Bactericidal Peptidomimetic Polyurethanes with Remarkable Selectivity against Escherichia coli. ACS Biomater. Sci. Eng. 2017, in press