Tackling antibiotic resistance: A dose of common antisense?

Neil Woodford, David W. Wareham, Ian Chopra, Matthew Ellington, Virve I. Enne, Heather Fairhead, William Fraser, Michael J. Gait, Peter A. Lambert, David M. Livermore, Alex J. Neil, Thamarai Schneiders, D. W.David W. Wareham, Davis E. Yakubu

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

56 Citations (Scopus)


Resistance to antimicrobial agents undermines our ability to treat bacterial infections. It attracts intense media and political interest and impacts on personal health and costs to health infrastructures. Bacteria have developed resistance to all licensed antibacterial agents, and their ability to become resistant to unlicensed agents is often demonstrated during the development process. Conventional approaches to antimicrobial development, involving modification of existing agents or production of synthetic derivatives, are unlikely to deliver the range or type of drugs that will be needed to meet all future requirements. Although many companies are seeking novel targets, further radical approaches to both antimicrobial design and the reversal of resistance are now urgently required. In this article, we discuss 'antisense' (or 'antigene') strategies to inhibit resistance mechanisms at the genetic level. These offer an innovative approach to a global problem and could be used to restore the efficacy of clinically proven agents. Moreover, this strategy has the potential to overcome critical resistances, not only in the so-called 'superbugs' (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, glycopeptide-resistant enterococci and multidrug-resistant strains of Acinetobacter baumannii, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa), but in resistant strains of any bacterial species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-229
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Discussions of the UK Antibacterial Antisense Study Group that resulted in this article were supported by AstraZeneca and the BSAC. D. W. W.’s work on antisense antibacterials has been supported by a Royal College of Pathologists Pilot Research Award.

Copyright 2012 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Bacteriophage
  • Delivery systems
  • Modified nucleic acids
  • Oligonucleotides
  • Resistance inhibitors/modulators


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