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Curr Opin Microbiol. 2010 Oct;13(5):551-7. doi: 10.1016/j.mib.2010.09.008. Epub 2010 Sep 29.

The future of the β-lactams.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA.


In the 80 years since their discovery the β-lactam antibiotics have progressed through structural generations, each in response to the progressive evolution of bacterial resistance mechanisms. The generational progression was driven by the ingenious, but largely empirical, manipulation of structure by medicinal chemists. Nonetheless, the true creative force in these efforts was Nature, and as the discovery of new β-lactams from Nature has atrophied while at the same time multi-resistant and opportunistic bacterial pathogens have burgeoned, the time for empirical drug discovery has passed. We concisely summarize recent developments with respect to bacterial resistance, the identity of the new β-lactams, and the emerging non-empirical strategies that will ensure that this incredible class of antibiotics has a future.

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