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Pentobra: A Potent Antibiotic with Multiple Layers of Selective Antimicrobial Mechanisms against Propionibacterium Acnes.


Although antibiotics are a common treatment for acne, the difficulties inherent to effective antimicrobial penetration in sebum and selective antimicrobial action in the skin are compounded by increasing resistance of Propionibacterium acnes clinical isolates. To address these problems, we engineered Pentobra, a peptide-aminoglycoside molecule that has multiple mechanisms of antibacterial action and investigated whether it can be a potential candidate for the treatment of acne. Pentobra combines the potent ribosomal activity of aminoglycosides with the bacteria-selective membrane-permeabilizing abilities of antimicrobial peptides. Pentobra demonstrated potent and selective killing of P. acnes but not against human skin cells in vitro. In direct comparison, Pentobra demonstrated bactericidal activity and drastically outperformed free tobramycin (by 5-7 logs) against multiple P. acnes clinical strains. Moreover, electron microscopic studies showed that Pentobra had robust membrane activity, as treatment with Pentobra killed P. acnes cells and caused leakage of intracellular contents. Pentobra may also have potential anti-inflammatory effects as demonstrated by suppression of some P. acnes-induced chemokines. Importantly, the killing activity was maintained in sebaceous environments as Pentobra was bactericidal against clinical isolates in comedones extracts isolated from human donors. Our work demonstrates that equipping aminoglycosides with selective membrane activity is a viable approach for developing antibiotics against P. acnes that are effective in cutaneous environments.

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