Antisense technologies consist of the utilization of oligonucleotides or oligonucleotide analogs to interfere with undesirable biological processes, commonly through inhibition of expression of selected genes. This field holds a lot of promise for the treatment of a very diverse group of diseases including viral and bacterial infections, genetic disorders, and cancer. To date, drugs approved for utilization in clinics or in clinical trials target diseases other than bacterial infections. Although several groups and companies are working on different strategies, the application of antisense technologies to prokaryotes still lags with respect to those that target other human diseases. In those cases where the focus is on bacterial pathogens, a subset of the research is dedicated to produce antisense compounds that silence or reduce expression of antibiotic resistance genes. Therefore, these compounds will be adjuvants administered with the antibiotic to which they reduce resistance levels. A varied group of oligonucleotide analogs like phosphorothioate or phosphorodiamidate morpholino residues, as well as peptide nucleic acids, locked nucleic acids and bridge nucleic acids, the latter two in gapmer configuration, have been utilized to reduce resistance levels. The major mechanisms of inhibition include eliciting cleavage of the target mRNA by the host’s RNase H or RNase P, and steric hindrance. The different approaches targeted resistance to β-lactams including carbapenems, aminoglycosides, chloramphenicol, macrolides, and fluoroquinolones.
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