Harnessing the Potential of Biosurfactants for Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Applications

Chiara Ceresa, Letizia Fracchia, Andrea Chiara Sansotera, Mayri Alejandra Diaz De Rienzo, Ibrahim M Banat

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Biosurfactants (BSs) are microbial compounds that have emerged as potential alternatives to chemical surfactants due to their multifunctional properties, sustainability and biodegradability. Owing to their amphipathic nature and distinctive structural arrangement, biosurfactants exhibit a range of physicochemical properties, including excellent surface activity, efficient critical micelle concentration, humectant properties, foaming and cleaning abilities and the capacity to form microemulsions. Furthermore, numerous biosurfactants display additional biological characteristics, such as antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral effects, and antioxidant, anticancer and immunomodulatory activities. Over the past two decades, numerous studies have explored their potential applications, including pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, antimicrobial and antibiofilm agents, wound healing, anticancer treatments, immune system modulators and drug/gene carriers. These applications are particularly important in addressing challenges such as antimicrobial resistance and biofilm formations in clinical, hygiene and therapeutic settings. They can also serve as coating agents for surfaces, enabling antiadhesive, suppression, or eradication strategies. Not least importantly, biosurfactants have shown compatibility with various drug formulations, including nanoparticles, liposomes, micro- and nanoemulsions and hydrogels, improving drug solubility, stability and bioavailability, and enabling a targeted and controlled drug release. These qualities make biosurfactants promising candidates for the development of next-generation antimicrobial, antibiofilm, anticancer, wound-healing, immunomodulating, drug or gene delivery agents, as well as adjuvants to other antibiotics. Analysing the most recent literature, this review aims to update the present understanding, highlight emerging trends, and identify promising directions and advancements in the utilization of biosurfactants within the pharmaceutical and biomedical fields.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2156
Pages (from-to)1-27
Number of pages27
Issue number8
Early online date18 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished online - 18 Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


  • biosurfactants
  • antibacterial/antifungal/antiviral activity
  • antibiofilm agents
  • antiadhesivecoatings
  • anticancer agents
  • immunomodulatory activity;
  • wound-healing promoters;
  • drug delivery systems
  • marine producers
  • LAB
  • immunomodulatory activity
  • wound-healing promoters
  • antiadhesive-coatings


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