The efficacies of antibiotic treatments have been compromised due to the emergence of (multi)drug-resistant pathogens, and the need for new treatment options is pressing. Within hosts, pathogens are bombarded with combinations of toxic compounds by immune cells, and bacteria have evolved numerous strategies to survive those antimicrobial assaults. Disruption of those defenses could sensitize bacteria to immune attacks and lead to new anti-infective modalities. To realize such therapies, deep understanding of how bacteria cope with those toxic cocktails is desirable. We propose that methods from biochemical engineering can help provide such knowledge and serve as complementary approaches to those that directly use phagocytes. Here, we summarize the rationale for pursuing immune-potentiating anti-infectives, review recent efforts that employ engineering approaches to examine phagosomal stressors and their antibacterial activity, and discuss how biochemical engineering can contribute further to this exciting field.
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