Current antibiotics, derived mainly from natural sources, inhibit a narrow spectrum of cellular processes, namely DNA replication, protein synthesis, and cell wall biosynthesis. With the worldwide explosion of drug resistance, there is renewed interest in the investigation of alternate essential cellular processes, including bacterial central metabolic pathways, as a drug target space for the next generation of antibiotics. However, the validation of targets in central metabolism is more complex, as essentiality of such targets can be conditional and/or contextual. Bearing in mind our enhanced understanding of prokaryotic central metabolism, a key question arises: can central metabolism be bacteria's Achilles' heel and a therapeutic target for the development of new classes of antibiotics? In this review, we draw lessons from oncology and attempt to address some of the open questions related to feasibility of targeting bacterial central metabolism as a strategy for developing new antibacterial drugs.
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