Molecular Nanomachines Disrupt Bacterial Cell Wall, Increasing Sensitivity of Extensively Drug-Resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae to Meropenem. Academic Article uri icon


  • Multidrug resistance in pathogenic bacteria is an increasing problem in patient care and public health. Molecular nanomachines (MNMs) have the ability to open cell membranes using nanomechanical action. We hypothesized that MNMs could be used as antibacterial agents by drilling into bacterial cell walls and increasing susceptibility of drug-resistant bacteria to recently ineffective antibiotics. We exposed extensively drug-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae to light-activated MNMs and found that MNMs increase the susceptibility to Meropenem. MNMs with Meropenem can effectively kill K. pneumoniae that are considered Meropenem-resistant. We examined the mechanisms of MNM action using permeability assays and transmission electron microscopy, finding that MNMs disrupt the cell wall of extensively drug-resistant K. pneumoniae, exposing the bacteria to Meropenem. These observations suggest that MNMs could be used to make conventional antibiotics more efficacious against multi-drug-resistant pathogens.

published proceedings

  • ACS Nano

altmetric score

  • 174.86

author list (cited authors)

  • Galbadage, T., Liu, D., Alemany, L. B., Pal, R., Tour, J. M., Gunasekera, R. S., & Cirillo, J. D.

citation count

  • 17

complete list of authors

  • Galbadage, Thushara||Liu, Dongdong||Alemany, Lawrence B||Pal, Robert||Tour, James M||Gunasekera, Richard S||Cirillo, Jeffrey D

publication date

  • December 2019