Next-generation strategy for treating drug resistant bacteria: Antibiotic hybrids

Indian J Med Res. 2019 Feb;149(2):97-106. doi: 10.4103/ijmr.IJMR_755_18.


Resistance against nearly all antibiotics used clinically have been documented in bacteria. There is an ever-increasing danger caused by multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria in both hospital and community settings. In Gram-negative bacteria, intrinsic resistance to currently available antibiotics is mainly due to overexpressed efflux pumps which are constitutively present and also presence of protective outer membrane. Combination therapy, i.e., use of two or more antibiotics, was thought to be an effective strategy because it took advantage of the additive effects of multiple antimicrobial mechanisms, lower risk of resistance development and lower mortality and improved clinical outcome. However, none of the benefits were seen in in vivo studies. Antibiotic hybrids are being used to challenge the growing drug resistance threat and increase the usefulness of current antibiotic arsenal. Antibiotic hybrids are synthetic constructs of two molecules which are covalently linked. These could be two antibiotics or antibiotic with an adjuvant (efflux pump inhibitor, siderophore, etc.) which increases the access of the antibiotics to the target. The concepts, developments and challenges in the future use of antibiotic hybrids are discussed here. Majority of the studies have been conducted on fluoroquinolones and aminoglycosides molecules. The antibiotic tobramycin has the property to enhance the action of antimicrobial agents against which the multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria were earlier resistant, and thus potentiating the action of legacy antibiotics. Antibiotic hybrids may have a role as the silver bullet in Gram-negative bacteria to overcome drug resistance as well as extend the spectrum of existing antibiotics.

Keywords: Antibiotic hybrid; Gram-negative bacteria; antibiotic resistance; multidrug; quinolone; resistance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Infective Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Infective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Bacterial Infections / epidemiology*
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Drug Combinations
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial*
  • Fluoroquinolones
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / drug effects
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / pathogenicity
  • Humans


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Drug Combinations
  • Fluoroquinolones