Antimicrobial activity of nature-inspired molecules against multidrug-resistant bacteria

Mohamad Hamad, Farah Al-Marzooq, Vunnam Srinivasulu, Ashna Sulaiman, Varsha Menon, Wafaa S. Ramadan, Raafat El-Awady, Taleb H. Al-Tel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Multidrug-resistant bacterial infections present a serious challenge to global health. In addition to the spread of antibiotic resistance, some bacteria can form persister cells which are tolerant to most antibiotics and can lead to treatment failure or relapse. In the present work, we report the discovery of a new class of small molecules with potent antimicrobial activity against Gram-positive bacteria and moderate activity against Gram-negative drug-resistant bacterial pathogens. The lead compound SIMR 2404 had a minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) of 2 μg/mL against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-intermediate Staphylococcus aureus (VISA). The MIC values against Gram-negative bacteria such as Escherichia coli and Actinobacteria baumannii were between 8–32 μg/mL. Time-kill experiments show that compound SIMR 2404 can rapidly kill tested bacteria. Compound SIMR 2404 was also found to rapidly kill MRSA persisters which display high levels of tolerance to conventional antibiotics. In antibiotic evolution experiments, MRSA quickly developed resistance to ciprofloxacin but failed to develop resistance to compound SIMR 2404 even after 24 serial passages. Compound SIMR 2404 was not toxic to normal human fibroblast at a concentration of 4 μg/mL which is twice the MIC concentration against MRSA. However, at a concentration of 8 μg/mL or higher, it showed cytotoxic activity indicating that it is not ideal as a candidate against Gram-negative bacteria. The acceptable toxicity profile and rapid antibacterial activity against MRSA highlight the potential of these molecules for further studies as anti-MRSA agents.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1336856
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • AMR (antimicrobial resistance)
  • Acinetobacter baumannii
  • MRSA – methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
  • antimicribial
  • multidrug resistance (MDR)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


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