In April 2014, the World Health Organization announced the beginning of
a post-antibiotic era and declared antimicrobial resistance (AMR) a public health
priority demanding global action. If no action is taken, by 2050 AMR will kill more
people each year than cancer, with 10 million estimated annual deaths at a cost of
$100 trillion to the global economy. New therapies to tackle multidrug resistant bacterial
pathogens are urgently needed. Unlike traditional antibiotics, antivirulence
drugs inhibit bacterial virulence instead of growth promising to offer a new class of
superior therapeutics that will be ‘evolution-proof’ and ‘tailored-spectrum’. This
mini-review discusses the latest emerging evidence on the promised benefits of antivirulence
drugs over conventional antibiotics, also highlighting the challenges in evaluating
these properties for each of the diverse virulence targets that are currently under investigation.
The author argues that overcoming such challenges early in the development process constitutes an important
step towards successfully progressing each of the expanding number of antivirulence strategies
into next-generation therapies for common human and animal infections that are becoming increasingly
refractory to all available antibiotics.
Keywords: Activity spectrum, bacteria, drug resistance, evolution, infection, pathogen, selection, virulence factor.
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