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Alyssa Burrows

Wed, 02/23/2022 - 15:01

Hi Pierce,

Thank you for facilitating a vibrant discussion last week with Tony and good job on summarising his lecture.

You have highlighted that the IDSA commitment to discovering 10 new antibiotics by 2020 helped bring incentives to antibiotic drug discovery and development however antimicrobial-resistant infections are still of high concern. Combination therapy has emerged as a common treatment strategy, they can exhibit independent, antagonistic or synergistic effects (1). Several screening strategies have been proposed to assess the efficacy of combinatorial drugs specifically, manual plate assays, microfluidic systems, and in silico methods, hit quality and throughput must be balanced (1). Given the lack of financial incentives for pharmaceutical companies to pursue antibiotic discovery as you have discussed, Nielsen et al., proposed that a non-profit approach may help stating that an “alternative model for sustaining discovery of antibiotics is overdue” (2). With the advancements of artificial intelligence and machine learning, it is predicted that these tools will help open up new regions of chemical space to exploration, the repurposing of non-antibiotic pharmaceuticals could also be a promising avenue for antibiotic discovery and will be facilitated by deep learning (3).

Are there any other antibiotic drug discovery initiatives that you have come across that could help address antimicrobial resistance? Do you think one approach may be more successful than another? Or will a combination of approaches be needed?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts,


1) Zhu M, Tse MW, Weller J, Chen J, Blainey PC. The future of antibiotics begins with discovering new combinations. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 2021 Jul;1496(1):82-96.
2) Nielsen TB, Brass EP, Gilbert DN, Bartlett JG, Spellberg B. Sustainable discovery and development of antibiotics—is a nonprofit approach the future?. The New England journal of medicine. 2019 Aug 8;381(6):503.
3) Melo MC, Maasch JR, de la Fuente-Nunez C. Accelerating antibiotic discovery through artificial intelligence. Communications biology. 2021 Sep 9;4(1):1-3.

Alyssa Burrows

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