Drug Combination Therapy to Eradicate Biofilm Formation


Executive Summary


Bacterial biofilm formation is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in cystic fibrosis patients with pulmonary infections. The biofilm acts as a tough shield against the body’s own defense mechanisms and makes current antibiotic treatment extremely challenging, often resulting in a chronic, progressive course of the disease. Due to the recalcitrant nature of biofilm infections and rapidly developed antimicrobial tolerance, there is a pressing need in the market for the introduction of more potent drugs with less side effects. Researchers at Michigan State University have made a promising discovery for a highly effective antimicrobial combination treatment for chronic lung infections in cystic fibrosis patients. In vitro testing data shows high efficacy of the combination drug, even against tobramycin-resistant strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.


Description of Technology


In an effort to create better treatment options for cystic fibrosis patients with pulmonary P. aeruginosa infections, researchers at MSU have developed a novel antimicrobial combination that may have the potential to significantly improve the prognosis for these patients. In vitro tests showed very promising results of the antibiotic triclosan acting synergistically with the standard of care drug tobramycin in eradicating P. aeruginosa biofilms. When tobramycin was administered in combination with triclosan, the antimicrobial cocktail resulted in a significant decrease in viable bacteria when compared to either anti-microbial alone.

The in vitro test results indicate that adding triclosan significantly lowers the effective dose of tobramycin, potentially reducing the risk of toxic side effects of long-term treatment for chronic lung infections in cystic fibrosis patients. In addition, the antimicrobial cocktail showed a much faster efficacy than tobramycin alone and was also highly effective in killing tobramycin-resistant clinical isolates.


Key Benefits

  • Increased efficacy: Greatly enhanced and more rapid efficacy in eradicating P. aeruginosa biofilms than current standard of care treatment with tobramycin.
  • Lower dosage: In comparison to current tobramycin dosage, the tobramycin/triclosan combination is effective at lower doses potentially decreasing the risk of toxic side effects.
  • Clinically relevant:  The combination was found to be effective against all tested clinical P. aeruginosa isolates, including tobramycin-resistant strains.
  • Versatile: Potentially effective treatment also for other P. aeruginosa biofilm infections; combinations of triclosan with other aminoglycosides showed similarly promising test results.
  • May qualify for Orphan Drug classification.



  • Treatment of biofilm infections such as chronic lung infections in cystic fibrosis patients
  • Decontamination


Patent Status:

Patent application published, publication number WO2017044091


Licensing Rights Available:

Full licensing rights available




Christopher Waters, Alessandra Hunt


Tech ID




Alternative contact due to temporary leave:


Nina (Isi) Davis, Technology Marketing Manager, email: davisnin@msu.edu, phone (direct): (517)884-1829. 


Patent Information:


For Information, Contact:

Anne Disante
Associate Director
Michigan State University