Bactericidal activity-tunable conjugated polymers as a human-friendly bactericide for the treatment of wound infections
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) has been reported to be an effective alternative to combat bacterial infections even those triggered by drug-resistant strains as there is little chance to develop resistance to this therapy. Therefore, it is imperative to design and synthesize a superior photo-active bactericide for the treatment of bacterial infections. Herein, we synthesized three bactericidal activity-tunable conjugated polymers (P1–P3) with various photoactive capabilities and employed them for the treatment of wound infections with little damage to cells; by altering the construction unit of π-conjugated backbone structures with electron-rich and electron-deficient aromatic heterocycles, the optical properties and ability of reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation could be regulated; this resulted in a tunable killing ability. The cationic quaternary ammonium (QA) groups on the side chains endowed the CPs with not only good dispersibility but also a better interaction with the negatively charged membrane of bacteria. The antibacterial experiments towards ampicillin-resistant Escherichia coli TOP10 (E. coli) and the treatment of wound infections in mice indicate that the P1–P3 have varied bactericidal activities; moreover, P3 has been demonstrated to be a human-friendly bactericide with excellent antibacterial capability. It not only acts as a potential bactericide for the practical treatment of infectious wounds, but also offers guidance for the design and structure control of photo-active bactericides.