Repurposing Non-Antimicrobial Drugs and Clinical Molecules to Treat Bacterial Infections

Curr Pharm Des. 2015;21(28):4106-11. doi: 10.2174/1381612821666150506154434.


There is a pressing need to develop novel antimicrobials to circumvent the scourge of antimicrobial resistance. The objective of this study is to identify non-antibiotic drugs with potent antimicrobial activity, within an applicable clinical range. A library, containing 727 FDA approved drugs and small molecules, was screened against ESKAPE pathogens (Enterococcus faecium, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Enterobacter cloacae). Drugs that showed antimicrobial activity in an applicable clinical range were further tested in vitro and in vivo in an infected mouse model. The initial screening identified 24 non-antibiotic drugs and clinical molecules active against Gram-positive pathogens including methicillin- resistant S. aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE) isolates. Two non-antibiotic drugs showed activity against Gram-negative pathogens. Among the active non-antibiotic drugs, only ebselen (EB) and 5-fluoro-2'-deoxyuridine (FdUrd), showed bactericidal activity, in an applicable clinical range, against multi-drug-resistant Staphylococcus isolates including MRSA, vancomycin-resistant S. aureus (VRSA), and vancomycin-intermediate S. aureus (VISA). The minimum inhibitory concentration at which 90% of clinical isolates of S. aureus were inhibited (MIC90) was found to be 0.25 and 0.0039mg/L for EB and FdUrd, respectively. Treatment with EB orally significantly increased mice survival in a lethal model of septicemic MRSA infection by (60%) compared to that of control. FdUrd oral and intraperitoneal treatment significantly enhanced mouse survival by 60% and 100%, respectively. These data encourage screening and repurposing of non-antibiotic drugs and clinical molecules to treat multidrug-resistant bacterial infections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Drug Repositioning*
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple, Bacterial
  • Female
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Sepsis / drug therapy
  • Sepsis / microbiology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents