Caister Academic Press

The Need for New Antibiotics

Arnold L. Demain and Sergio Sanchez
from: Antibiotics: Current Innovations and Future Trends (Edited by: Sergio Sánchez and Arnold L. Demain). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2015) Pages: 65-82.


The large amounts of antibiotics used in human therapy, as well as those used for farm animals and aquaculture, have resulted in the selection of pathogenic bacteria resistant to multiple drugs. New antibiotics are continuously required to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria and pathogenic yeast. Such resistance increasingly limits the effectiveness of current antimicrobial drugs. The problem is not just antibiotic resistance, but also the appearance of an increasing number of multidrug-resistant pathogenic bacteria. Resistant bacteria were detected in hospitals and nosocomial infections have become a major problem. Staphylococcus aureus is responsible for half of hospital-acquired infections and causes deaths of many people around the world. Besides the problem of antibiotic-resistance, new families of antibiotics are needed to enter the marketplace at regular intervals to face new diseases caused by evolving pathogens. At least 30 new diseases emerged in the 1980s and 1990s and they are growing in incidence. Also important are reemerging diseases such as influenza and hepatitis B. Due to the movement of the pharmaceutical industry away from natural products, especially antibiotics, the number of drug approvals in recent years has drastically dropped. However, antimicrobial pharmaceuticals are still big business and the search for new drugs must not be stopped. New screening approaches, including the search for novel targets and exploration of non-conventional places as sources of the producer microorganisms, are needed. In addition, metagenomic and genome- mining techniques have shown strong potential for discovery of new antibiotics. What is needed is a move back by the large companies to rational drug design and the use of more focused, more drug-like, compound libraries. In addition, it is desirable that small companies and academics, either in an independent manner or organized as biotechnology/university groups, increase their participation in a worldwide effort for new antibiotic discovery read more ...
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