Modern medicine is under the excruciating pressure of drug resistant bacterial strains which are ever advancing with the introduction of every new class of antibiotics. Traditional bactericidal and bacteriostatic drugs, while effective in eliminating the susceptible bacterial strains, also impose a selective pressure on bacteria which often leads to the emergence of antimicrobial resistance. An alternative approach is the development of anti-virulence therapies, which aims reduce bacterial pathogenesis while avoiding the selective pressure of classical antimicrobial inhibitors, thus rendering bacteria harmless and potentiating natural elimination from the host by innate immunity defence mechanisms. We have synthesised a selection of functional polymers of poly(acryloyl hydrazide) using a panel of aldehyde functionalisation groups and evaluated their anti-virulence properties on both Mycobacterium bovis BCG and Mycobacterium smegmatis mc2 155, two surrogate organisms to study Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the etiological agent responsible for tuberculosis. Using a combination of microscopy and in vitro studies, we have shown the effectiveness of anti-virulence polymers in reducing mycobacterial phagocytosis in J774 macrophages with minimal antimicrobial activity.

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