Repurposing the anticancer drug cisplatin with the aim of developing novel Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection control agents

Mingjun Yuan, Song Lin Chua, Yang Liu, Daniela I. Drautz-Moses, Joey Kuok Hoong Yam, Thet Tun Aung, Roger W. Beuerman, May Margarette Santillan Salido, Stephan C. Schuster, Choon Hong Tan, Michael Givskov, Liang Yang, Thomas E. Nielsen

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Antibiotic resistance threatens effective treatment of microbial infections globally. This situation has spurred the hunt for new antimicrobial compounds in both academia and the pharmaceutical industry. Here, we report how the widely used antitumor drug cisplatin may be repurposed as an effective antimicrobial against the nosocomial pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Cisplatin was found to effectively kill strains of P. aeruginosa. In such experiments, transcriptomic profiling showed upregulation of the recA gene, which is known to be important for DNA repair, implicating that cisplatin could interfere with DNA replication in P. aeruginosa. Cisplatin treatment significantly repressed the type III secretion system (T3SS), which is important for the secretion of exotoxins. Furthermore, cisplatin was also demonstrated to eradicate in vitro biofilms and in vivo biofilms in a murine keratitis model. This showed that cisplatin could be effectively used to eradicate biofilm infections which were otherwise difficult to be treated by conventional antibiotics. Although cisplatin is highly toxic for humans upon systemic exposure, a low toxicity was demonstrated with topical treatment. This indicated that higher-than-minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) doses of cisplatin could be topically applied to treat persistent and recalcitrant P. aeruginosa infections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3059-3069
Number of pages11
JournalBeilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry
Publication statusPublished - 14 Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Biofilm
  • Cisplatin
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Resistance
  • Type III secretion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry

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