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Potential therapeutic applications of microbial surface-active compounds

1 Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Università del Piemonte Orientale “A. Avogadro”, Largo Donegani 2, 28100, Novara, Italy;
2 Medical Education Centre, Altnagelvin Hospital, City of Derry, BT47 6SB, N. Ireland, UK;
3 School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Ulster, Coleraine, BT52 1SA, N. Ireland, UK

Special Issues: Microbial biotechnology

Numerous investigations of microbial surface-active compounds or biosurfactants over the past two decades have led to the discovery of many interesting physicochemical and biological properties including antimicrobial, anti-biofilm and therapeutic among many other pharmaceutical and medical applications. Microbial control and inhibition strategies involving the use of antibiotics are becoming continually challenged due to the emergence of resistant strains mostly embedded within biofilm formations that are difficult to eradicate. Different aspects of antimicrobial and anti-biofilm control are becoming issues of increasing importance in clinical, hygiene, therapeutic and other applications. Biosurfactants research has resulted in increasing interest into their ability to inhibit microbial activity and disperse microbial biofilms in addition to being mostly nontoxic and stable at extremes conditions. Some biosurfactants are now in use in clinical, food and environmental fields, whilst others remain under investigation and development. The dispersal properties of biosurfactants have been shown to rival that of conventional inhibitory agents against bacterial, fungal and yeast biofilms as well as viral membrane structures. This presents them as potential candidates for future uses in new generations of antimicrobial agents or as adjuvants to other antibiotics and use as preservatives for microbial suppression and eradication strategies.
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