Antibiotic-resistant bacterial pathogens are increasingly playing a role in rising illness and preventing wound healing, especially in hospitals. While more and more pathogens have developed biofilms that protect them from being eradicated by antibiotics, fewer classes of antibiotics are being developed. Researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev decided to go in a different direction and investigated a phytochemical derived from cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli that breaks down the biofilm.
Phytochemicals are chemical compounds made by plants. The phytochemical 3,3′-diindolylmethane (DIM) successfully broke down the biofilms protecting two different important pathogens including Acinetobacter baumannii and Pseudomonas aeruginosa – enabling their eradication 65% and 70% of the time, respectively. Combined with antibiotics, that number jumped to 94%.
Prof. Ariel Kushmaro, Dr. Karina Golberg, and his team together with Prof. Robert Marks, all members of the Avram and Stella Goldstein-Goren Department of Biotechnology Engineering at BGU chronicled their findings in the peer-reviewed journal Pharmaceutics recently.
Additionally, when they introduced DIM into an infected wound, it sped up the healing process significantly, the team found. “Our findings show promise for other avenues of research in addition to known classes of antibiotics,” says Prof. Kushmaro.
Further development and commercialization of the technology are currently being undertaken at the startup company LifeMatters.
Additional researchers from Prof. Kushmaro’s lab included: Bat-el Kagan, Sigalit Barzanizan, Dr. Karin Yaniv, and Dr. Esti Kramarsky-Winter. They collaborated with researchers from Near East University and Girne American University in Cyprus.
The research was supported by the National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev and Israel’s Ministry of Science and Technology.
Prof. Kushmaro is also a member of the Goldman Sonnenfeldt School of Sustainability and Climate Change, and the Ilse Katz Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology.