Advances in Drug Delivery Strategies for Microbial Healthcare Products

  • Jose Manuel AgeitosEmail author
  • Marcos Garcia-Fuentes
Part of the Environmental Chemistry for a Sustainable World book series (ECSW, volume 26)


Biomacromolecules produced by microorganisms have been employed in healthcare ever since ancient times as part of fermented products or natural remedies, but from the discovery of penicillin in 1928 by Alexander Fleming, it is impossible to conceive medicine without microbial products. In addition to antibiotics, microorganisms produce secondary metabolites currently employed as anti-inflammatory, immunosuppressant, and antitumoral drugs, among others. As with any other well-established drugs, undesirable side effects may occur with these compounds due to excessive systemic drug concentrations, and their pharmacological activity can be lost by the development of resistance in the target cells. Besides, many microbial drugs have intrinsic physicochemical properties that limit their application in healthcare such as low aqueous solubility, low bioavailability, acute toxicity, and fast systemic and pre-systemic degradation.

Here we review the critical aspects of innovative strategies for microbial products of high interest for academia and healthcare industry. In order to improve some of the current drug limitations, researchers have explored multiple advanced formulation approaches based on disruptive technologies. By means of new biomaterials and nanotechnology, it is possible to maximize the possibilities for functionalization and interfacing with the biological environment, a characteristic that leads to unique properties as drug delivery carriers. These approaches have resulted in improved pharmacological effects and pharmaceutical characteristics as compared to classical formulations, representing the dawn of a new era in microbial healthcare products.


Anti-inflammatory Immunosuppressant Cardiovascular protective Antitumoral Antibiotic Probiotic Drug delivery carriers Nanoparticle Micelle Liposome 



Food and Drug Administration


generally recognized as safe


methicillin-resistant S. aureus


poly(ethylene glycol)


functionalized with PEG


poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid)

TAT peptide

transactivator of transcription of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV1)


vancomycin-resistant enterococci


vancomycin-resistant S. aureus



This work was supported by Fundación BBVA, Proyectos de Investigación en Biomedicina (2014-PO0110), and Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (SAF2014-58189-R, FEDER Funds).

The chemical structures were obtained from the PubChem Database ( and represented using the MarvinSketch software (ChemAxon Ltd, Budapest, Hungary).

Protein molecular models were obtained from the Protein Data Bank (PDB;; 1WCO). Molecular graphics and analyses were performed with the UCSF Chimera package (Pettersen et al. 2004). Chimera is developed by the Resource for Biocomputing, Visualization, and Informatics at the University of California, San Francisco (supported by NIGMS P41-GM103311).


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Research in Molecular Medicine and Chronic Diseases (CiMUS) and Department of Pharmacology, Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical TechnologyUniversity of Santiago de CompostelaSantiago de CompostelaSpain

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