Antibiotic adjuvants: multicomponent anti-infective strategies
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The unremitting emergence of multidrug-resistant bacterial pathogens highlights a matching need for new therapeutic options. For example, new carbapenemases such as KPC (class A Klebsiella pneumoniae) and NDM-1 (New Delhi metallo-β-lactamase 1) are surfacing, resulting in almost total resistance to β-lactam antibiotics. Furthermore, resistance is quickly disseminated, not only in the healthcare sector, but also within the community at large, because many resistance determinants are carried on mobile genetic elements readily shared among pathogens. The absence of new antibiotics has led to a growing reliance on older, more toxic drugs such as colistin, but resistance to these is already arising. One approach to combat this growing problem is the use of combination drug antibiotic adjuvant therapy, which potentiates the activity of antibiotics. Here, we review the current situation and discuss potential drug combinations that may increase the potency of antibiotics in the future. Adjuvant therapies include antibiotic combinations, synergy between antibiotics and nonantibiotics, inhibition of resistance and molecules that alter the physiology of antibiotic-insensitive cells, such as those in biofilms. We provide a rationale for these multicomponent strategies, highlighting current research and important considerations for their clinical use and pharmacological properties.
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