Antibiotics for Emerging Pathogens

  • Vinayak Agarwal
  • Satish K. NairEmail author


Antibiotics are organic small molecules, many of which are from natural sources, which are used to treat human infections caused by pathogenic microorganisms. While most validated antibiotics are initially very useful clinically, the pathogenic microorganisms that these compounds target are able to evade the action of the antibiotic by development of resistance mechanisms, which eventually render these antibiotics ineffective. Moreover, these resistance mechanisms can be passed on among different types of bacteria in a very simplistic manner that further compromises the usefulness of antibiotics. As a consequence, many diseases that were thought to have been eradicated by antibiotics (such as tuberculosis) have reemerged within these antibiotic-resistant strains. Hence, there is a constant need for the development of new and better antibiotic molecules that can be used to target these drug-resistant microbial populations.


Fatty Acid Biosynthesis Trojan Horse Cell Wall Biosynthesis Antibiotic Molecule Fatty Acid Biosynthesis Pathway 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



A microscopic or submicroscopic organism, too small to be seen by unaided human eye, comprising of bacteria, virus, yeast, protozoa and fungi.


A disease-causing microorganism which may or may not be infectious.


A chemical substance, usually organic in nature, capable of destroying or inhibiting the growth of pathogenic microorganisms.

Antibiotic resistance

The developed or acquired ability of antibiotic susceptible pathogenic microorganisms to grow and survive despite the inhibitory action of the antibiotic molecules.


Small, linear or circular genetic elements which can replicate independently of the chromosomal DNA inside a cell.


A highly contagious bacterial disease of humans and animals caused by various strains of Mycobacterium, which normally affects the lungs but can also spread to other organs of the body.


A highly contagious protozoal disease caused by various strains of mosquito-borne Plasmodium.


Short chains of amino acids connected by peptide bonds.


Compounds characterized by more than two carbonyl groups connected by single intervening carbon atoms.



Research in the Nair lab is supported by the NIGMS. We thank Neha Garg, Yue Hao, and Zhi Li for stimulating discussions.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Biophysics and Computational BiologyUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biochemistry and Center for Biophysics and Computational BiologyUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA

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