Engineered, Thermally-Stable Alginate Lyase with High Activity and Broad Substrate Specificity Against Bacterial Exopolysaccharides


Lehigh University has developed an alignate lyase capable of degrading multiple types of exoploysaccharides (EPS) found in bacterial biofilms, which are correlated with increased drug resistance in several pathogens. This material has the ability to break down components from biofilms of different organisms and can be combined with other antibacterial that might have been otherwise ineffective. The material might also be used as a component in a cleaning solution or as part of a decontamination process, including those used for medical implants and water purification systems. The material is also effective against biofilms commonly found in lung infections and could be delivered using a nebulizer.


Lehigh Tech ID#042412-01



Antibacterial sales in the seven largest markets—the US, Japan, France, Italy, Germany, Spain and the UK--totaled $19.6 billion in 2009 with the global market being around $30 billion. [1]  As the effects of biofilms in clinical settings can be devastating, pharmaceutical companies are looking for new alternatives to existing antibiotics. In the US alone, an estimated 300 million catheters are used annually [2] and about 3% of all patients receiving catheters develop a biofilm related infection, which can have high mortality rates. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has suggested that some 3 million people per year are infected with multidrug-resistant bacteria with mortality at about 25,000. [3]


The antibacterial market is increasingly moving towards the hospital sector where bacterial resistance is of concern due to limited ability to treat serious infections, increased mortality rates, prolonged hospital stays and ultimately higher health costs. There is a growing need to develop a compound that is effective against multiple kinds of bacteria that are now resistant to the antibacterials currently used. [4]

[1] “Forecast Insight: Antibacterials.” Report Linker web site. (accessed April 30, 2012).

[2] Diego Romero and Roberto Kolter, “Will biofilm disassembly agents make it to market?” Cell Press web site. (accessed May 1, 2012).

[3] , accessed May 3, 2012.

[4] “Analysis of antibacterial market in the hospital sector.” News Medical web site. (accessed April 30, 2012).



Lehigh University is initially interested in identifying industry partners to co-develop the material, ultimately leading to licensing.

App Type Country Serial No. Patent No. File Date Issued Date Expire Date
Provisional [PR] United States 61/712,913 10/12/2012   10/12/2013
Patent Cooperation Treaty [PCT] United States PCT/US2013/064604 10/11/2013 10/8/2015 10/17/2016
Life Sciences
For Information, Contact:
Alan Snyder
VP, Research & Grad Programs
Lehigh University
Bryan Berger