Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) represents a hot topic in drug discovery. Besides the identification of new antibiotics, the use of nonantibiotic molecules to block resistance mechanisms is a powerful alternative. Bacterial efflux pumps exert an early step in AMR development by allowing bacteria to grow at subinhibitorial drug concentrations. Thus, efflux pump inhibitors (EPIs) offer a great opportunity to fight AMR. Given our experience in developing Staphylococcus aureus NorA EPIs, in this work, starting from the 2-phenylquinoline hit 1, we planned the introduction of methoxy groups on the basis of their presence in known NorA EPIs. Among the 35 different synthesized derivatives, compounds 3b and 7d exhibited the best NorA inhibition activity by restoring at very low concentrations ciprofloxacin MICs against resistant S. aureus strains. Interestingly, both compounds displayed EPI activities at nontoxic concentrations for human cells as well as highlighted promising results by preliminary pharmacokinetic studies.

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