What is an "ideal" antibiotic? Discovery challenges and path forward

Biochem Pharmacol. 2017 Jun 1;133:63-73. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2017.01.003. Epub 2017 Jan 10.


An ideal antibiotic is an antibacterial agent that kills or inhibits the growth of all harmful bacteria in a host, regardless of site of infection without affecting beneficial gut microbes (gut flora) or causing undue toxicity to the host. Sadly, no such antibiotics exist. What exist are many effective Gram-positive antibacterial agents as well as broad-spectrum agents that provide treatment of certain Gram-negative bacteria but not holistic treatment of all bacteria. However effectiveness of all antibacterial agents is being rapidly eroded due to resistance. This viewpoint provides an overview of today's antibiotics, challenges and potential path forward of discovery and development of new (ideal) antibiotics.

Keywords: Antibacterials; Antibiotics; Discovery challenges; ESKAPE; Path-forward of discovery.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / chemistry*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / classification*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery / methods*
  • Drug Discovery / trends
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / drug effects
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / physiology
  • Humans
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests / methods


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents