Antibiotic resistance is now a major threat to human health, and one approach to combating this threat is to develop resistance-resistant antibiotics. Synthetic antimicrobial polymers are generally resistance resistant, having good activity with low resistance rates but usually with low therapeutic indices. Here, we report our solution to this problem by introducing dual-selective mechanisms of action to a short amidine-rich polymer, which can simultaneously disrupt bacterial membranes and bind to bacterial DNA. The oligoamidine shows unobservable resistance generation but high therapeutic indices against many bacterial types, such as ESKAPE strains and clinical isolates resistant to multiple drugs, including colistin. The oligomer exhibited excellent effectiveness in various model systems, killing extracellular or intracellular bacteria in the presence of mammalian cells, removing all bacteria from Caenorhabditis elegans, and rescuing mice with severe infections. This "dual mechanisms of action"approach may be a general strategy for future development of antimicrobial polymers.
ASJC Scopus subject areas