Materials and methods for preventing and treating anastomotic leaks are disclosed. Data establishes that pathogenic microbes interfere with establishing epithelial cell barriers in anastomoses and, more generally, with the reconnection of any two portions of like or different tissues comprising epithelia. Suitable prophylactic and therapeutic composition comprise, e.g., a phosphorylated high molecular weight polyethylene glycol compound.
STATEMENT OF GOVERNMENT INTEREST
 This invention was made with government support under Grant Number R01-GM062344-12, awarded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and under Grant Number DE-AC02-06CH11357 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The government has certain rights in the invention.