Intracellular bacterial pathogens are hard to treat because of the inability of conventional antimicrobial agents belonging to widely used classes, like aminoglycosides and β-lactams, fluoroquinolones, or macrolides to penetrate, accumulate, or be retained in the mammalian cells. The increasing problem of antibiotic resistance complicates more the treatment of the diseases caused by these agents. In many cases, the increase in therapeutic doses and treatment duration is accompanied by the occurrence of severe side effects. Taking into account the huge financial investment associated with bringing a new antibiotic to the market and the limited lifetime of antibiotics, the design of drug delivery systems to enable the targeting of antibiotics inside the cells, to improve their activity in different intracellular niches at different pH and oxygen concentrations, and to achieve a reduced dosage and frequency of administration could represent a prudent choice. An ideal drug delivery system should possess several properties, such as antimicrobial activity, biodegradability, and biocompatibility, making it suitable for use in biomedical and pharmaceutical formulations. This approach will allow reviving old antibiotics rendered useless by resistance or toxicity, rescuing the last line therapy antibiotics by increasing the therapeutic index, widening the antimicrobial spectrum of antibiotics scaffolds that failed due to membrane permeability problems, and thus reducing the gap between increasingly drug-resistant pathogens and the development of new antibiotics. Different improved drug carriers have been developed for treating intracellular pathogens, including antibiotics loaded into liposomes, microspheres, polymeric carriers, and nanoplexes. The purpose of this chapter is to present the limitations of each class of antibiotics in targeting intracellular pathogens and the main research directions for the development of drug delivery systems for the intracellular release of antibiotics.
Part of the book: Smart Drug Delivery System