Commun Biol. 2021 Mar 12;4(1):331. doi: 10.1038/s42003-021-01856-1.
Multidrug-resistant (MDR) bacteria pose a grave concern to global health, which is perpetuated by a lack of new treatments and countermeasure platforms to combat outbreaks or antibiotic resistance. To address this, we have developed a Facile Accelerated Specific Therapeutic (FAST) platform that can develop effective peptide nucleic acid (PNA) therapies against MDR bacteria within a week. Our FAST platform uses a bioinformatics toolbox to design sequence-specific PNAs targeting non-traditional pathways/genes of bacteria, then performs in-situ synthesis, validation, and efficacy testing of selected PNAs. As a proof of concept, these PNAs were tested against five MDR clinical isolates: carbapenem-resistant Escherichia coli, extended-spectrum beta-lactamase Klebsiella pneumoniae, New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase-1 carrying Klebsiella pneumoniae, and MDR Salmonella enterica. PNAs showed significant growth inhibition for 82% of treatments, with nearly 18% of treatments leading to greater than 97% decrease. Further, these PNAs are capable of potentiating antibiotic activity in the clinical isolates despite presence of cognate resistance genes. Finally, the FAST platform offers a novel delivery approach to overcome limited transport of PNAs into mammalian cells by repurposing the bacterial Type III secretion system in conjunction with a kill switch that is effective at eliminating 99.6% of an intracellular Salmonella infection in human epithelial cells.