Combating Bacteria and Drug Resistance by Inhibiting Mechanisms of Persistence and Adaptation

Nat Chem Biol. 2007 Sep;3(9):549-56. doi: 10.1038/nchembio.2007.27.


Antibiotics have revolutionized the treatment of infectious disease but have also rapidly selected for the emergence of resistant pathogens. Traditional methods of antibiotic discovery have failed to keep pace with the evolution of this resistance, which suggests that new strategies to combat bacterial infections may be required. An improved understanding of bacterial stress responses and evolution suggests that in some circumstances, the ability of bacteria to survive antibiotic therapy either by transiently tolerating antibiotics or by evolving resistance requires specific biochemical processes that may themselves be subject to intervention. Inhibiting these processes may prolong the efficacy of current antibiotics and provide an alternative to escalating the current arms race between antibiotics and bacterial resistance. Though these approaches are not clinically validated and will certainly face their own set of challenges, their potential to protect our ever-shrinking arsenal of antibiotics merits their investigation. This Review summarizes the early efforts toward this goal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / drug effects*
  • Adaptation, Physiological / genetics
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena / drug effects
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial / drug effects*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents