Mucin-inspired Glycopolymers Can Selectively Reduce Vaginal Pathogens Without Impacting Growth of Beneficial Lactobacillus

Applications

This technology uses mucins and mucin-inspired glycopolymers to destroy biofilms and reduce pathogenic Gardnerella Vaginalis bacteria commonly found during bacterial vaginosis (overgrowth of bacteria) in the vagina while not harming beneficial bacteria, such as Lactobacillus Crispatus.

Problem Addressed

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is an imbalance in bacterial growth leading to an increased number of pathogenic bacteria such as Gardnerella vaginalis (G. vaginalis). BV is associated with an increased risk of acquiring sexually transmitted infections and with adverse pregnancy outcomes. Currently, the most common treatment is broad spectrum antibiotics via oral or topical application, which over time contributes to antibiotic resistance.  Furthermore, the antibiotic usage can itself create an imbalance in the body’s microbiome, which can increase susceptibility to other infections and complications. A vaginal microbiome transplant is an alternative, but donors are limited, and the procedure is more expensive than broad spectrum antibiotics. The mucin-inspired glycopolymers of this invention avoid disrupting the microbiome’s balance, while subduing the overgrowth of G. vaginalis for less than a microbiome transplant. 

Technology

This technology uses mucin-inspired glycopolymers, polymers mimicking certain properties of mucus, to alter the microbial environment and reduce growth of pathogenic G. vaginalis. Certain sugar molecules of mucins, such as galactose, act as signaling molecules to selectively trigger a reduction in pathogenic behavior, and beneficial bacteria are not harmed in the process. To create the mucin-inspired glycopolymers, galactose is grafted onto silk fibroin or norbornene forming a synthetic mucus. Presence of the galactose sugar molecule leads to reduced biofilms, less pathogenic bacterial growth, and decreased endocervical cell death. The mucin-inspired glycopolymers can also be coupled with probiotic treatment to further help in rebalancing the microbiome.

Advantages

  • Avoids the use of antibiotics and thus complications due to good bacteria being killed indiscriminately.
  • Selectively reduces pathogenic bacteria, such as G. vaginalis.
  • Can be coupled with probiotic treatments.
  • Cheaper, easier alternative than vaginal microbiome transplants.
  • No wait time for a microbiome donor.