Despite the fact that bacterial infections are one of the leading causes of death worldwide
and that mortality rates are increasing at alarming rates, no new antibiotics have been produced by the
pharmaceutical industry in more than a decade. The situation is so dire that the World Health Organization
warned that we may enter a “post-antibiotic era” within this century; accordingly, bacteria resistant
against all known antibiotics are becoming common and already producing untreatable infections.
Although several novel approaches to combat bacterial infections have been proposed, they
have yet to be implemented in clinical practice. Hence, we propose that a more plausible and faster
approach is the utilization of drugs originally developed for other purposes besides antimicrobial activity.
Among these are some anticancer molecules proven effective in vitro for eliminating recalcitrant,
multidrug tolerant bacteria; some of which also protect animals from infections and recently are
undergoing clinical trials. In this review, we highlight the similarities between cancer cells/tumors
and bacterial infections, and present evidence that supports the utilization of some anticancer drugs,
including 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), gallium (Ga) compounds, and mitomycin C, as antibacterials. Each
of these drugs has some promising properties such as broad activity (all three compounds), dual antibiotic
and antivirulence properties (5-FU), efficacy against multidrug resistant strains (Ga), and the
ability to kill metabolically dormant persister cells which cause chronic infections (mitomycin C).
Keywords: Antibiotics, Bacteria, Biofilms, Cancer cells, 5-fluorouracil, Gallium, Infections, Mitomycin C, Persisters,
Rights & PermissionsPrintExport