What molecule am I?
Polyhexanide [formally, poly(hexamethylene biguanide)] is an unusual water-soluble polymer with five nitrogen atoms in each repeating unit, three of them in the polymer’s backbone. It was first described in late 1960s in British, French, and South African patents to Imperial Chemical Industries (London).
Since its inception, polyhexanide and its hydrochloride salt1 have been used for a wide range of sanitizing purposes. Examples are protecting crops from molds and bacteria in the field and in storage, preserving meat and fish products, and sanitizing swimming pools. In medicine, it has been used primarily for treating keratitis (corneal infection), but also for dressing wounds.
The use of polyhexanide products may be coming to an end. In 2011, the European Chemical Agency designated it as a suspected carcinogen. Since then, its uses have been increasingly restricted in Europe. In 2017, the US Food and Drug Administration declined an application for polyhexanide as an orphan drug for keratitis.
1. CAS Reg. No. 32289-58-0.
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