WARF: P04217US02

Method for Modulating Microbial Quorum Sensing


Jo Handelsman, Bradley Borlee

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in methods and compounds for treating bacterial infections by stimulating or disrupting the quorum sensing pathway.
OVERVIEWBacteria that use quorum sensing are thought to be involved in two thirds of human bacterial infections. These bacteria produce acyl-homoserine lactones (AHL), which they use to gauge population density. When the population reaches a sufficient density, virulence genes are induced and certain pathogens produce protective biofilms. Therefore, quorum sensing controls genes that are essential to inducing infections caused by diverse bacteria.
THE INVENTIONUW-Madison researchers have developed methods and compounds that reduce virulence by stimulating or disrupting the quorum sensing pathway in bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The compounds have been tested in culture-grown bacteria, but still require animal testing. They probably modulate the quorum sensing pathway by binding to the regulatory protein that is responsive to the authentic quorum sensing inducers. When the pathway is blocked, the bacteria are less virulent and may remain more susceptible to antibiotics because they cannot produce biofilms. If the pathway is stimulated, the bacteria may become prematurely virulent, and the host immune response might be activated before the bacteria can reach high concentrations.
  • Treatment of bacterial infections in plants and animals, including respiratory, pulmonary, ear, eye, bone, joint, urinary tract, gastrointestinal tract, skin and wound infections
  • Prevention of industrial biofouling
  • Should not lead to bacterial resistance because it does not kill the bacteria
  • No compounds currently are available to decrease virulence.
  • Can be used in combination with antibiotics
  • Can be administered orally, intravenously, topically or with suppositories
  • Can be used in personal hygiene or household cleaning products
Contact Information
For current licensing status, please contact Mark Staudt at or 608-960-9845.
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