Impediments to Discovery of New Antimicrobials with New Modes of Action

  • Paul S. HoffmanEmail author


During the golden age of antibiotic discovery (1945–1970), little thought was given to the possibility that someday we would run out of them. It is shocking to admit that the last class of antibiotics was discovered over 30 years ago. What happened? The easy answer is that discovering new antibiotics is really hard, developing them is even harder, and once you get them to the clinic, there is little economic value for your efforts. This chapter seeks to explain some of the impediments to discovery of new antibiotics that include (1) the number of potential broad-spectrum “common” drug targets is small; (2) new pharmacophores are prone to early failure due to cytotoxicity, drug metabolism, or poor pharmacokinetics; (3) the general reticence to embrace and apply new technologies; (4) societal issues associated with their use and costs; and (5) the general lack of grant funding to support early discovery efforts. Despite these strong head winds, several concepts and approaches are discussed along with examples of what is working.


Antibiotic pipeline Antimicrobial Amixicile Antimicrobial challenges 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Infectious Diseases and International HealthUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA

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