Using bicarbonate to potentiate the activity of antibiotics and develop novel therapies.



Antibiotic resistance is one of the most pressing challenges to infectious disease medicine. The growing number of multi-drug resistant pathogens coupled with the retreat of the pharmaceutical sector from new antibiotic development has exacerbated this problem such that new innovative strategies are needed to meet these health challenges. Bicarbonate, which acts as the dominant buffer in all body fluids and organs, has remarkable power as an antibiotic adjuvant and has great potential in the discovery and development of new antibacterial drugs. However, novel methods are needed to potentiate the response of a microorganism to antimicrobial agents, therefore allowing for either a greater response at a given concentration of the antimicrobial agent, or an increased response at a lower concentration of the antimicrobial agent.

Technology Overview

McMaster researchers have developed a method for inhibiting the growth of a microbe by contacting the microbe with an effective amount of bicarbonate and an antimicrobial agent. The discovery provides methods for treating or preventing microbial infections in medical and veterinary applications. The use of bicarbonate in potentiating the activity of antibiotics has significant implications in the development of novel therapies for the future.

Stage of Development: Proof of principle data available.

19-019 & 17-027

Key Benefits

• Therapeutic designs consist of a natural and harmless substance (bicarbonate).

• Bicarbonate shown to alter the proton motive force (PMF)of bacteria, thus affecting any process and/or uptake driven by PMF.

• Possible discovery of novel antibacterials not yet discovered inconventional screens in standard microbiological media.

• Preserve the efficacy of existing antibiotics that may work better in the host than originally thought

• Novel and alternate clinical indications in the presence of physiological concentrations of bicarbonate.


Medical Applications:
• Broad-spectrum treatment of bacterial infections
• Topical treatments, aerosolized formulations as well as ophthalmic indications
• Infection treatment

Veterinary Medicine

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