Orthopaedic Research & Biotechnology Unit, The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, NSW, Australia.
Osteomyelitis and infections associated with orthopedic implants represent a significant burden of disease worldwide. Ceragenins (CSAs) are a relatively new class of small-molecule antimicrobials that target a broad range of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria as well as fungi, viruses, and parasites. This review sets the context of the need for new antimicrobial strategies by cataloging the common pathogens associated with orthopedic infection and highlighting the increasing challenges of managing antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains. It then comparatively describes the antimicrobial properties of CSAs with a focus on the CSA-13 family. More recently developed members of this family such as CSA-90 and CSA-131 may have a particular advantage in an orthopedic setting as they possess secondary pro-osteogenic properties. In this context, we consider several new preclinical studies that demonstrate the utility of CSAs in orthopedic models. Emerging evidence suggests that CSAs are effective against antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus strains and can prevent the formation of biofilms. There remains considerable scope for developing CSA-based treatments, either as coatings for orthopedic implants or as local or systemic antibiotics to prevent bone infection.