Conjugated Polythiophene for Rapid, Simple, and High-Throughput Screening of Antimicrobial Photosensitizers

Significance Statement

  Photodynamic antimicrobial chemotherapy (PACT) is effective in killing microbial cells with resistance to antibiotics and can be designed to target localized infections and offers little possibility to produce photoresistant species. Since the behavior of photosensitizers (PS) is crucial for enhancing the efficiency of PACT, accessing and finding suitable and efficient PS are becoming extremely important. Researchers from Hebei University of Technology, P.R. China reported a new, rapid, simple and high-throughput method with only a single cationic conjugated polythiophene derivative (PMNT) to realize the screening of photosensitizer activity. This new strategy has three significant characteristics. First, the PMNT can be simply used to quantitatively measure the amounts of bacteria in high sensitivity. Second, no expensive materials and instruments were required, leading to the low cost of our method (~$1.0 for one high-throughput screening of six photosensitizers ). Third, the high-throughput screening of PACT efficacy only takes 4.5 hours to complete the assay including incubation, irradiation, culture and detection. This new platform is efficient and promising for discovering new kinds of PACT photosensitizers. 

About the author

Chengfen Xing is a full professor of chemistry at School of Sciences, Hebei University of Technology. She earned her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2011. She was a postdoctoral researcher at MESA+ Institute of Nanotechnology, University of Twente and was a postdoctoral researcher at Institute of Molecules and Materials, University of Nijmegen from 2011 to 2012. From 2013, she began her independent faculty career as a full professor of Chemistry, Hebei University of Technology. Her current research interest is focused on design, synthesis of conjugated polymers-based hybrid materials for biosensing and building stimuli-responsive architectures.

Journal Reference

ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2015 Jul 15;7(27):14569-72.

Li R1, Niu R2, Qi J2, Yuan H2, Fan Y2, An H2, Yan W1, Li H1, Zhan Y2, Xing C1,2. 

[expand title=”Show Affiliations”]
  1. School of Chemical Engineering and Technology, Hebei University of Technology, Tianjin 300130, P. R. China.
  2. Key Laboratory of Hebei Province for Molecular Biophysics, Institute of Biophysics, Hebei University of Technology, Tianjin 300401, P. R. China.


The cationic conjugated poly[3-(3′-N,N,N-triethylamino-1′-propyloxy)-4-methyl-2,5-thiophene hydrochloride] (PMNT) has been developed for high-throughput screening of photodynamic antimicrobial  chemotherapy photosensitizers (PSs). The bacterial number can be detected quantitatively by PMNT via various fluorescence quenching efficiencies. The photosensitized inactivation  of bacteria is not efficient with ineffective PSs, and thus the bacteria grow exponentially and can   be coated tightly by PMNT through electrostatic and hydrophobic interactions, resulting in aggregates  and fluorescence quenching of PMNT, whereas, conversely, effective photosensitizers lead to original and strong fluorescence of PMNT. This new platform of high-throughput screening is promising for discovering  new photosensitizers.

Go To ACS Appl Mater Interfaces


High-Throughput Screening of Antimicrobial photosensitizers. Global Medical Discovery