A microfluidic platform for the characterisation of membrane active antimicrobials

K. Al Nahas, J. Cama, M. Schaich, K. Hammond, S. Deshpande, C. Dekker, M.G. Ryadnov, U.F. Keyser*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


The spread of bacterial resistance against conventional antibiotics generates a great need for the discovery of novel antimicrobials. Polypeptide antibiotics constitute a promising class of antimicrobial agents that favour attack on bacterial membranes. However, efficient measurement platforms for evaluating their mechanisms of action in a systematic manner are lacking. Here we report an integrated lab-on-a-chip multilayer microfluidic platform to quantify the membranolytic efficacy of such antibiotics. The platform is a biomimetic vesicle-based screening assay, which generates giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs) in physiologically relevant buffers on demand. Hundreds of these GUVs are individually immobilised downstream in physical traps connected to separate perfusion inlets that facilitate controlled antibiotic delivery. Antibiotic efficacy is expressed as a function of the time needed for an encapsulated dye to leak out of the GUVs as a result of antibiotic treatment. This proof-of-principle study probes the dose response of an archetypal polypeptide antibiotic cecropin B on GUVs mimicking bacterial membranes. The results of the study provide a foundation for engineering quantitative, high-throughput microfluidics devices for screening antibiotics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)837-844
Number of pages8
JournalLab on a Chip
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


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