The Francis Crick Institute
bcj-2022-0062c.pdf (4.23 MB)

Integrating bacterial molecular genetics with chemical biology for renewed antibacterial drug discovery.

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-07-08, 10:03 authored by Susannah L Parkhill, Eachan O Johnson
The application of dyes to understanding the aetiology of infection inspired antimicrobial chemotherapy and the first wave of antibacterial drugs. The second wave of antibacterial drug discovery was driven by rapid discovery of natural products, now making up 69% of current antibacterial drugs. But now with the most prevalent natural products already discovered, ∼107 new soil-dwelling bacterial species must be screened to discover one new class of natural product. Therefore, instead of a third wave of antibacterial drug discovery, there is now a discovery bottleneck. Unlike natural products which are curated by billions of years of microbial antagonism, the vast synthetic chemical space still requires artificial curation through the therapeutics science of antibacterial drugs - a systematic understanding of how small molecules interact with bacterial physiology, effect desired phenotypes, and benefit the host. Bacterial molecular genetics can elucidate pathogen biology relevant to therapeutics development, but it can also be applied directly to understanding mechanisms and liabilities of new chemical agents with new mechanisms of action. Therefore, the next phase of antibacterial drug discovery could be enabled by integrating chemical expertise with systematic dissection of bacterial infection biology. Facing the ambitious endeavour to find new molecules from nature or new-to-nature which cure bacterial infections, the capabilities furnished by modern chemical biology and molecular genetics can be applied to prospecting for chemical modulators of new targets which circumvent prevalent resistance mechanisms.


Crick (Grant ID: CC2169, Grant title: Johnson CC2169)