To address the escalating problem of antimicrobial resistance and the dwindling antimicrobial pipeline, we have developed a library of novel aerosolizable silver-based antimicrobials, particularly for the treatment of pulmonary infections. To rapidly screen this library and identify promising candidates, we have devised a novel in vitro metric, named the "drug efficacy metric" (DEM), which integrates both the antibacterial activity and the on-target, host cell cytotoxicity. DEMs calculated using an on-target human bronchial epithelial cell-line correlates well (R2 > 0.99) with in vivo efficacy, as measured by median survival hours in a Pseudomonas aeruginosa pneumonia mouse model following aerosolized antimicrobial treatment. In contrast, DEMs derived using off-target primary human dermal fibroblasts correlate poorly (R2 = 0.0595), which confirms our hypothesis. SCC1 and SCC22 have been identified as promising drug candidates through these studies, and SCC22 demonstrates a dose-dependent survival advantage compared to sham treatment. Finally, silver-bearing biodegradable nanoparticles were predicted to exhibit excellent in vivo efficacy based on its in vitro DEM value, which was confirmed in our mouse pneumonia model. Thus, the DEM successfully predicted the efficacy of various silver-based antimicrobials, and may serve as an excellent tool for the rapid screening of potential antimicrobial candidates without the need for extensive animal experimentation.
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