Challenges of antibacterial discovery

Clin Microbiol Rev. 2011 Jan;24(1):71-109. doi: 10.1128/CMR.00030-10.


The discovery of novel small-molecule antibacterial drugs has been stalled for many years. The purpose of this review is to underscore and illustrate those scientific problems unique to the discovery and optimization of novel antibacterial agents that have adversely affected the output of the effort. The major challenges fall into two areas: (i) proper target selection, particularly the necessity of pursuing molecular targets that are not prone to rapid resistance development, and (ii) improvement of chemical libraries to overcome limitations of diversity, especially that which is necessary to overcome barriers to bacterial entry and proclivity to be effluxed, especially in Gram-negative organisms. Failure to address these problems has led to a great deal of misdirected effort.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Discovery / methods*
  • Drug Discovery / trends*
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial
  • Humans


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents