Biofilm-inspired encapsulation of probiotics for the treatment of complex infections

Zhihao Li, Adam M. Behrens, Nitzan Ginat, Stephany Y. Tzeng, Xueguang Lu, Sarit Sivan, Robert Langer, Ana Jaklenec

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The emergence of antimicrobial resistance poses a major challenge to healthcare. Probiotics offer a potential alternative treatment method but are often incompatible with antibiotics themselves, diminishing their overall therapeutic utility. This work uses biofilm-inspired encapsulation of probiotics to confer temporary antibiotic protection and to enable the coadministration of probiotics and antibiotics. Probiotics are encapsulated within alginate, a crucial component of pseudomonas biofilms, based on a simple two-step alginate cross-linking procedure. Following exposure to the antibiotic tobramycin, the growth and metabolic activity of encapsulated probiotics are unaffected by tobramycin, and they show a four-log survival advantage over free probiotics. This results from tobramycin sequestration on the periphery of alginate beads which prevents its diffusion into the core but yet allows probiotic byproducts to diffuse outward. It is demonstrated that this approach using tobramycin combined with encapsulated probiotic has the ability to completely eradicate methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa in coculture, the two most widely implicated bacteria in chronic wounds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1803925
JournalAdvanced Materials
Issue number51
StatePublished - Dec 2018


  • Alginate
  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Chronic wounds
  • Encapsulation
  • Probiotics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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