Keywords: biofilm, biocompatible, disinfectant, antimicrobial, food safety, pathogen, sterile packaging, sterile manufacturing
Summary:Problem: Bacteria have evolved a wide range of strategies to adhere to abiotic surfaces, which has a major economic and health impact on sterile manufacturing and packaging of food, pharmaceuticals and consumer goods. While both industry and government agree that a solution to the increasing number of infections from food products is required, “poultry processors have resisted, arguing that it would be expensive and ultimately futile, because Salmonella is so pervasive.” Thus, an effective solution must (1) provide broad activity against a wide range of bacterial pathogens and (2) do so in a cost-effective manner compatible with current manufacturing processes. Solution: We have developed a series of engineered enzymes that exhibit broad-spectrum activity against a wide range of polysaccharides found in bacterial biofilms. Our enzyme-based technology has the advantage of biocompatibility and biodegradability, providing an effective, safe approach to the chemical or physical methods currently used to disrupt biofilms. Furthermore, engineering enzyme stability in the presence of acids, detergents and other FDA-approved disinfectants will enable a solution that is not only safe, but also cost-effective for implementation in current manufacturing processes. Next Steps: Identifying partners for commercialization as a “drop-in” to existing processes, or co-development of new products.