Army

Hyperbranched polymers that catalyze bacterial growth

Improved additives promote the growth of microorganisms

Medical & Biotechnology

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory has discovered a polymer that boosts bacteria growth. Companies that want to leverage the technology, using it to create new products and services, can apply for a patent license agreement.

As the realm of genetically modified microorganisms increases, there is an increasing need to develop new technologies for promoting growth at industrial scale. A large volume and array of important products may soon be produced through microbial means if experts can work out higher volume production processes.

Promotion of microbial growth shows modest enhanced of Gram (+) bacteria and a potentially large enhancement of Gram (-) bacteria.

Addressing changes in the market, ARL scientists and engineers have developed novel additives that promote the growth of microorganisms. The additives are hyperbranched polymers based on one or more repeating units of an ABtype monomer. One of the functional groups is dichloroisocyanurate (C3Cl2N3O3). It is recognized that this structure stabilizes oxidative chlorine species, but in this instance, the dichloroisocyanurate advantageously leads to the growth of bacterial microorganisms such as E. coli, or, or S. aureus.

These additives function on a wide variety of surfaces, including those formerly found to be unsuitable for microorganism growth. These compounds spontaneously migrate to the upper surface (air interface) of a substrate to infuse it with a high concentration of the additive at the air interface.

This technology is the result of unexpected results from experimentation. Army researchers have observed that the hyperbranched polymer described in the patent unexpectedly enhances the growth of bacterial microorganisms. While a typical additive with a highly efficient antimicrobial function would reduce microbial growth by about 90% – 99%, in this instance, the hyperbranched polymer caused the improved growth of all organisms deposited on the substrate surface. For example, the impact on growth rates for Gram (+), Gram (−), and C. albicans organisms of about 2% additive in a thermoplastic polyurethane film is shown in the table.

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