Microbial drug discovery: 80 years of progress

J Antibiot (Tokyo). 2009 Jan;62(1):5-16. doi: 10.1038/ja.2008.16. Epub 2009 Jan 9.


Microbes have made a phenomenal contribution to the health and well-being of people throughout the world. In addition to producing many primary metabolites, such as amino acids, vitamins and nucleotides, they are capable of making secondary metabolites, which constitute half of the pharmaceuticals on the market today and provide agriculture with many essential products. This review centers on these beneficial secondary metabolites, the discovery of which goes back 80 years to the time when penicillin was discovered by Alexander Fleming.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / chemical synthesis
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / history*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Biological Products / chemistry
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial
  • Drug Resistance, Fungal
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Biological Products