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Ecology and evolution as targets: the need for novel eco-evo drugs and strategies to fight antibiotic resistance

Ecology and evolution as targets: the need for novel eco-evo drugs and strategies to fight antibiotic resistance

Antimicrobial Agents and ChemoTherapy 55(8): 3649-3660

ISSN/ISBN: 0066-4804

PMID: 21576439

DOI: 10.1128/aac.00013-11

In recent years, the explosive spread of antibiotic resistance determinants among pathogenic, commensal, and environmental bacteria has reached a global dimension. Classical measures trying to contain or slow locally the progress of antibiotic resistance in patients on the basis of better antibiotic prescribing policies have clearly become insufficient at the global level. Urgent measures are needed to directly confront the processes influencing antibiotic resistance pollution in the microbiosphere. Recent interdisciplinary research indicates that new eco-evo drugs and strategies, which take ecology and evolution into account, have a promising role in resistance prevention, decontamination, and the eventual restoration of antibiotic susceptibility. This minireview summarizes what is known and what should be further investigated to find drugs and strategies aiming to counteract the "four P's," penetration, promiscuity, plasticity, and persistence of rapidly spreading bacterial clones, mobile genetic elements, or resistance genes. The term "drug" is used in this eco-evo perspective as a tool to fight resistance that is able to prevent, cure, or decrease potential damage caused by antibiotic resistance, not necessarily only at the individual level (the patient) but also at the ecological and evolutionary levels. This view offers a wealth of research opportunities for science and technology and also represents a large adaptive challenge for regulatory agencies and public health officers. Eco-evo drugs and interventions constitute a new avenue for research that might influence not only antibiotic resistance but the maintenance of a healthy interaction between humans and microbial systems in a rapidly changing biosphere.

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Accession: 036149133

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