Invention Library

Novel Quaternary Phosphonium Compound (QPC) Disinfectants

Background and Unmet Need

Quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs) are a staple disinfectant in household, agricultural, industrial, and clinical settings.  Their popularity has continued to persist due to their broad-spectrum activity against various micro-organisms. While the non-specific mechanism of QACs suggested that these compounds would evade resistance development, unfortunately, tolerance of QACs was eventually observed.

Furthermore, sub-inhibitory concentrations of QAC treatments have been found to promote co-resistance to disinfectants and antibiotics.  Thus, there remains a need for novel broad-spectrum disinfectant compounds to address these concerns.


QACs hold the highest share of active disinfectant agents on the market, despite their contribution to increased antimicrobial resistance.

However, design of disinfectants is not limited to ammonium-based compounds. Compounds designed with phosphorous have been found to overcome the challenges of resistance development.   Recently, quaternary phosphonium compounds (QPCs) have proven to be an effective alternative to traditional QAC-based products.

Villanova University scientist Dr. Kevin Minbiole and Dr. William Wuest from Emory University have developed novel QPCs that can be used across a variety of fields. By replacing nitrogen with phosphorous, resistance to QACs has been evaded successfully to create a new class of molecules critical for new, unusually potent and fast-acting, environmentally friendly products.

When tested against commercial QACs, comparable hemolytic activity and 8-64-fold increase in activity against Gram-positive and Gram-negative species were observed.