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Research projects

Bacteriocins in prevention and treatment of infections

About this project

Project information

Project status

In progress


Torbjörn Bengtsson

Research subject

The increasing number of infectious diseases worldwide caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria will have dramatic effects on public health and devastating costs on human society. Since the progress of developing new families of antibiotics has severely declined in recent years this alarming situation is worsened. Consequently, there is an urgent need for development of new antimicrobials in human medicine. Promising alternatives to traditional antibiotics are bacteriocins, i.e. small antimicrobial peptides that kill microbes usually through pore-forming mechanisms and are produced by numerous bacteria, e.g. lactobacilli. Bacteriocins are attractive candidates for prevention and treatment of chronic infections due to high potency, low risk of resistance development, limited effects on the normal flora, beneficial effects on tissues and, in addition, can be chemically modified to more efficient forms. This means that bacteriocins have several advantages compared to conventional antibiotics, antiseptics and other more non-specific anti-bacterial substances. We have shown that certain lactobacillus strains and specific bacteriocins, e.g. plantaricins such as PLNC8ab, most potently inhibit the growth and biofilm formation of the periodontal key bacterium Porphyromonas gingivalis and pathogens causing Health Care Associated Infections (HAIs), such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Most interestingly, we have found that different plantaricins (PLNC8ab, Pln A, E, F, J, K) and gallidermin markedly enhance (100-fold) the efficacy of different types of antibiotics. This synergistic effect is most important since it reduces the risk of development of antibiotic resistance. Our main objective of this project is to develop new antibacterial compounds based on bacteriocins against acute and chronic infection. In this context, we were, together with researchers at Linköping and Luleå university, recently granted from the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research (SSF) in a multidisciplinary project, HEALiX. The aim of this project is to develop a new generation of advanced multifunctional wound dressing materials that will give clinicians new and better means to go beyond wound management and instead focus on wound healing, with the vision to significantly reduce patient suffering and lower the economic burden of non-healing wounds. More specifically the objectives of HEALiX are to develop innovative wound dressing materials associated with antibacterial peptides that provide optimal conditions to combat wound infections and support wound healing. 

This project is supported by the Knowledge Foundation.


- Khalaf, H., Nakka, S., Sandén, C., Svärd, A., Scherbak, N., Hultenby, K., Aili, D., Bengtsson., T. (2016) Antibacterial effects of Lactobacillus and bacteriocin PLNC8  on the periodontal pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis. BMC Microbiology, 16:188.

- Bengtsson, T., Zhang, B., Selegård, R., Wiman, E., Aili, D., Khalaf, H. (2017) Dual action of bacteriocin PLNC8 αβ through inhibition of Porphyromonas gingivalis infection and promotion of cell proliferation. Pathogens and Disease, In press

Research funding bodies

  • The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research (SSF)
  • The Knowledge Foundation


  • Daniel Aili, Linköpings Universitet