Phosphorous Polymers with High Antibacterial Activity and Low Blood Cell Toxicity

Functionalized phosphonium polymers utilizing sugar or hydrophilic functionally with high antibacterial activity


Antimicrobial polymers are materials that can inhibit the growth of microorganisms, such as fungi, and bacteria. Normally, antimicrobial polymers are produced by attaching active antimicrobial agents on the polymer backbone by an alkyl or acetyl linkage. Antimicrobial polymers are not only able to enhance the efficiency of the currently used antimicrobial products, but also provide environmental benefits due to its non-volatility and environmental safety. As such, these polymers can be extremely useful in medicine, the food industry and in drinking water treatment industries.

The current limitation of antimicrobial polymer available to the market is that due to its particle size. This is a significant constraint, which does not allow them to act as fast as small molecule agents in destroying bacteria. Also, the contact time required to kill bacteria is in order of hours, which has no practical value for real-world applications, especially in the medical field. Therefore, it would be very advantageous to develop antimicrobial polymers with fast, high antibacterial activity, and the ability to element bacteria in a short period.

Technology Overview

Researchers from Western have developed functionalized phosphonium polymers utilizing sugar or hydrophilic functionally with high antibacterial activity. The benefits of this polymer are not only in its ability to have a substantial increase in hydrophilicity, but also in its ability to exhibit high antibacterial activity and decreased hemolytic activity (red blood cell toxicity), and long-lasting efficacy.


  • High antibacterial activity
  • Decreased low red blood cell toxicity
  • Short contact (kill) time, in order of minutes


This technology has commercial application in the following fields

  • In medicine to fight or prevent infection. For example, antimicrobial can be used as controlled delivery systems in dental restorative materials because of their high activities
  • In food industry to prevent contamination. For example, by incorporating antimicrobial substances into packaging materials we can control microbial contamination i.e. reducing the growth rate and the maximum growth population etc.
  • In water treatment industries, especially in drinking water treatment devices to inhibit microorganism’s growth. For example, water-soluble disinfectants such as chlorine have problems with the residual toxicity, even if minimal amounts of the substance used. This drawback can be solved by the removal of microorganisms from water with insoluble substances, such as this insoluble antimicrobial polymer.

IP Status

Canadian and US patent filed


  • Development partner
  • Commercial partner    
  • Licensing

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Noshin Hashim

Business Development Officer

+1.519.661.2111 x84594

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