Rethinking the composition of a rational antibiotic arsenal for the 21st century


Margaret A Riley, Sandra M Robinson, Christopher M Roy & Robert L Dorit


The importance of the human microbiome in health may be the single most valuable development in our conception of the microbial world since Pasteur’s germ theory of the 1860s. Its implications for our understanding of health and pathogenesis are profound. Coupled with the revolution in diagnostics that we are now witnessing – a revolution that changes medicine from a science of symptoms to a science of causes – we cannot continue to develop antibiotics as we have for the past 80 years. Instead, we need to usher in a new conception of the role of antibiotics in treatment: away from single molecules that target broad phylogenetic spectra and towards targeted molecules that cripple the pathogen while leaving the rest of the microbiome largely intact.

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