Poly-ε-Lysine or Mel4 Antimicrobial Surface Modification on a Novel Peptide Hydrogel Bandage Contact Lens

Rebecca Lace, Kyle G. Doherty, Debarun Dutta, Mark D.P. Willcox, Rachel L. Williams*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Microbial keratitis (MK) is a serious issue in many countries and is often caused by contact lens wear. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are a potentially useful tool for creating antimicrobial surfaces in light of increasing antibiotic resistance. Poly-ε-lysine (pεK) is an AMP that has been used extensively as a food preservative and Mel4 has recently been synthesized and studied as an antimicrobial coating for contact lenses. A hydrogel synthesized of pεK cross-linked with biscarboxylic acids provides a potential lens material which has many surface free amines, that can be subsequently used to attach additional AMPs, creating an antimicrobial lens. The aim of this study is to investigate pεK hydrogels against a clinical strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa) for preventing or treating MK. Covalent attachment of AMPs is investigated and confirmed by fluorescently tagged peptides. Bound pεK effectively reduces the number of adherent P. aeruginosa in vitro (>3 log). In ex vivo studies positive antimicrobial activity is observed on bare pεK hydrogels and those with additionally bound pεK or Mel4; lenses allow the maintenance of the corneal epithelium. A pεK hydrogel contact lens with additional AMPs can be a therapeutic tool to reduce the incidence of MK.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2001232
JournalAdvanced Materials Interfaces
Issue number21
Early online date21 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

© 2020 The Authors. Published by Wiley‐VCH GmbH

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Funding: EPSRC. Grant Number: EP/M002209/1


  • antimicrobial peptides
  • contact lens
  • microbial keratitis
  • Pseudomonas


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