Multi-drug resistance (MDR) of Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria is strongly associated with a modification of membrane permeability that alters the intracellular concentration of antimicrobial agents such as antibiotics, antiseptics and biocides.
In order to combat this bacterial strategy, coordinated efforts from diverse and complementary scientific areas are essential - from clinical bacteriology, bacterial physiology, metabolic regulation, structural biology, biochemistry, biophysics, molecular modeling, chemical synthesis and systems biology.
The COST (European Cooperation in the field of Scientific and Technical research) Action network BM0701 designated ATENS (Antibiotic Transport and Efflux: New Strategies to combat bacterial resistance) was initiated in 2008. The main aim of ATENS is to provide a framework, through collaboration, to increase knowledge and understanding of the efflux-mediated resistance in bacterial pathogens and to translate this knowledge into the development of novel antimicrobials. Its subobjectives are to determine prevalence and evolution of bacterial drug efflux mechanisms, identify risk factors, decipher genetic regulation of this mechanism, elucidate the functional and structural bases of efflux resistance, and to synthesize and evaluate molecules that obviate efflux-mediated resistance. More than 35 teams belonging to 20 member states constitute 4 Working Groups: Clinical and Veterinary Bacteriology; Molecular Basis of Drug Efflux; Structural Genomics, Bioinformatics and Molecular Modelling; they are also involved in the production of new molecules, chemosensitizers or inhibitory agents. This multi- and interdisciplinary approach should identify new targets and generate effective agents against efflux mechanisms in MDR bacterial pathogens.
ATENS has already accomplished the following: produced more than 50 joint publications involving several BM0701 teams, including special issues focused on antibiotic resistance like the articles in this issue; organized five european COST meetings; and funded several students exchanges between partners to promote an efficient and fruitful transfer of knowledge. In addition, several COST members have contributed to International meetings in the field. We believe that our joint efforts will initiate new discoveries and strategies to overcome multidrug resistance.