Antibiotic-resistant pathogens are increasingly more prevalent and problematic. Traditional antibiotics are no longer a viable option for dealing with these multidrug-resistant microbes and so new approaches are needed. Bacteriophage-derived proteins such as endolysins could offer one effective solution. Endolysins are bacteriophage-encoded peptidoglycan hydrolases that act to lyse bacterial cells by targeting their cell’s wall, particularly in Gram-positive bacteria due to their naturally exposed peptidoglycan layer. These lytic enzymes have received much interest from the scientific community in recent years for their specificity, mode of action, potential for engineering, and lack of resistance mechanisms. Over the past decade, a renewed interest in endolysin therapy has led to a number of successful applications. Recombinant endolysins have been shown to be effective against prominent pathogens such as MRSA, Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus
strains in biofilm formation, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa
. Endolysins have also been studied in combination with other antimicrobials, giving a synergistic effect. Although endolysin therapy comes with some regulatory and logistical hurdles, the future looks promising, with the emergence of engineered “next-generation” lysins. This review will focus on the likelihood that endolysins will become a viable new antimicrobial therapy and the challenges that may have to be overcome along the way.
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