The New Versus Old Target Debate for Drug Discovery

  • Alice L. Erwin
Part of the Emerging Infectious Diseases of the 21st Century book series (EIDC)


At the turn of the century, it appeared to many of us that the empiric methods that had been used to discover most antibiotics were passé. New technologies like combinatorial chemistry, high-throughput screening, and X-ray crystallography, together with genome sequences from several bacterial pathogens, would allow us to discover new classes of antibiotics with novel mechanisms. Looking back over the past two decades, the expected flood of new antibacterial scaffolds has not yet appeared, perhaps because of the emphasis on enzyme targets whose activity could easily be assayed. However, in the same period there has been a trickle of clinical candidates from other sources: new antibiotics acting on well-established targets; antibacterial compounds with a variety of unexpected or unknown mechanisms, discovered through empiric methods; and agents discovered by rational methods but with mechanisms very different from the enzyme targets of the genome era.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Alice L. Erwin
    • 1
  1. 1.Erwin ConsultingSeattleUSA

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