The Importance of Better Drug Design for Antibiotic Innovation

Guidelines needed to help find, tailor molecules that can beat tough superbugs

The Importance of Better Drug Design for Antibiotic Innovation
Antibiotic resistance

Gram-negative pathogens are among the most serious microbial threats in the United States, particularly for health care-associated infections. Providers are running out of options to treat some of the most dangerous and life-threatening infections caused by these bacteria.

© iStockphoto

In February 2017, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and The Pew Charitable Trusts co-hosted a workshop for scientists to share ideas for tackling one of the most significant barriers to antibiotic discovery: finding and designing molecules that can enter and remain inside Gram-negative bacteria.

Gram-negative pathogens are among the most serious microbial threats in the United States, particularly for health care-associated infections. Providers are running out of options to treat some of the most dangerous and life-threatening infections caused by these bacteria. The recent news of a Nevada woman serves as a grim reminder of what is at stake.   

The two-day workshop brought together leading academic, industry, and government experts representing a breadth of disciplines to propose strategies to address this problem and drive new antibiotic discovery. The group identified the types of research tools and information that are needed to spur innovation–priority areas outlined in Pew’s report A Scientific Roadmap for Antibiotic Discovery and that were also the focus of a recent NIAID funding opportunity.

Priorities stemming from the workshop include the following action items:

  • Create a platform that enables the scientific community to better access, share, and use information. Participants generally agreed that establishing a collaborative information-sharing platform for existing and prospective data and information would help advance the discovery of antibiotics that can attack Gram-negative bacteria and would jump-start new innovation.
  • Establish an antibiotic discovery “society” or virtual consortium. A cohesive group of scientists interested in antibiotic innovation could represent the unique perspectives of the field, set milestones, and track progress toward common goals over time. Additionally, such a group could help diversify the community of researchers working to address key barriers to antibiotic discovery and cultivate the next generation of antibiotic discovery scientists. 
  • Build momentum by tackling key research priorities in a systematic way. While a number of ongoing research efforts support antibiotic discovery, important barriers remain unresolved. The establishment of issue-specific working groups to tackle these barriers (e.g., development of new technologies to measure the entry of molecules into Gram-negative bacteria; creation of a collaborative information-sharing platform to share information and knowledge) with targeted goals and approaches could help drive progress.

Carolyn Shore works on The Pew Charitable Trusts’ antibiotic resistance project.

Spotlight on Mental Health

Fighting superbugs
Fighting superbugs
Article

New Federal Funds Support Targeted Research on Toughest Superbugs

NIH will support novel, milestone-driven research on Gram-negative bacteria, key to spurring antibiotic innovation

Quick View
Article

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has recently announced a new funding opportunity for milestone-driven research aimed at advancing the discovery of urgently needed antibiotics by systematically tackling key scientific questions.

Composite image of modern city network communication concept

Learn the Basics of Broadband from Our Limited Series

Sign up for our four-week email course on Broadband Basics

Quick View

How does broadband internet reach our homes, phones, and tablets? What kind of infrastructure connects us all together? What are the major barriers to broadband access for American communities?

Pills illustration
Pills illustration

What Is Antibiotic Resistance—and How Can We Fight It?

Sign up for our four-week email series The Race Against Resistance.

Quick View

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs,” are a major threat to modern medicine. But how does resistance work, and what can we do to slow the spread? Read personal stories, expert accounts, and more for the answers to those questions in our four-week email series: Slowing Superbugs.

Explore Pew’s new and improved
Fiscal 50 interactive

Your state's stats are more accessible than ever with our new and improved Fiscal 50 interactive:

  • Maps, trends, and customizable charts
  • 50-state rankings
  • Analysis of what it all means
  • Shareable graphics and downloadable data
  • Proven fiscal policy strategies

Explore

Welcome to the new Fiscal 50

Key changes include:

  • State pages that help you keep track of trends in your home state and provide national and regional context.
  • Interactive indicator pages with highly customizable and shareable data visualizations.
  • A Budget Threads feature that offers Pew’s read on the latest state fiscal news.

Learn more about the new and improved Fiscal 50.