Ellagitannins as Inhibitors of Bacterial Quorum Sensing


Florida International University (FIU) is pursuing business partners interested in developing and commercializing Ellagitannins as Inhibitors of Bacterial Quorum Sensing. FIU inventors have been able to discover a novel function of the class of compounds known as ellagitannins: the ability to inhibit bacterial quorum sensing (QS)

QS is the process bacteria use to sense population density and regulate gene expression appropriately. If achieved the interruption of this mechanism would reduce pathogenicity and thus provide a new way with which to treat infection. Additionally QS is universal amongst different bacterial strains allowing for the potential of broad spectrum effects.

This technology in particular describes two ellagitannins, vescalagin and castalagin. Both of which have been found to be active anti-QS compounds in the medicinal plant Conocarpus erectus.  FIU inventors have also identified five other plants that have anti-QS compounds and are continuing their work in order to elucidate, modify, and develop more ellagitannins.

The ellagitannins extracted from C. erectus were tested against three different species of bacteria: Chromobacterium violaceum, Agrobacterium tumefaciens, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The extracts successfully inhibited QS sensing in all three species. C. violaceum and P. aeruginosa are human opportunistic pathogens, whereas A. tumefaciens is a plant opportunistic pathogen. This detail demonstrates the scope of application of these compounds.

Additionally, results in a live animal model system indicate not only the effectiveness of these compounds but also the lack of toxicity to the host organism.

  • Medical, Veterinary, and agricultural industries.
    • Ellagitannins could be used in drug formulations to counter bacterial infections including activity against antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains.
    • Since QS is universal it these compounds have broad spectrum potential.
    • Offers the potential to eradicate previously unmanageable strains of bacteria.
    • At the very least anti-QS compounds could be used in combination therapy with standard antibiotics to more effectively suppress infection.
    • Could open up a new avenue of drug development.
  • Anti-QS compounds could prove to be more effective than present antibacterial drugs.
    • Targeting the QS system of a cell has been suggested to debilitate the infection process without the selection for antibiotic resistant bacteria.
  • It’s novel features include:
    • Inhibiting bacteria cell to cell communication.
    • Lessening virulence.
    • Allowing the host immune system to clear out the infection.
  • Anti QS antibacterial compounds are a step forward in solving the growing problems of chronic infection and antibiotic resistance.

For additional information about this technology opportunity, please contact Elizabeth Garami at egarami@fiu.edu or by phone at 305-348-0008 and ask about record IP 0804