Antibiotics are undoubtedly a pillar of modern medicine; their discovery in 1929 revolutionized the fight against infectious disease, instigating a worldwide decline in infection-associated mortality. Throughout the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s the golden age of antibiotic discovery was underway with numerous new classes of antibiotics identified and brought to market. By 1962 all of our currently known families of antibiotics had been discovered, and it was a widely held belief, that humanity had conquered infectious disease. Despite varying bacterial cellular targets, most antibiotics targeted exponentially multiplying bacteria by interfering with integral processes such as peptidoglycan synthesis or ribosomal activity. The very nature of this targeted approach has driven the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Methods of antibiotic identification relied solely on scientific observation, and while chemical analogues such as amoxicillin, derived from penicillin, continued to be developed, they retained the same mechanisms of action and hence the same bacterial targets. This article describes and discusses some of the emerging novel targets for antimicrobial treatments, highlighting pivotal research on which our ability to continue to successfully treat bacterial infection relies.
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