Review Article | Published:

Drug repurposing for antimicrobial discovery

Nature Microbiologyvolume 4pages565577 (2019) | Download Citation


Antimicrobial resistance continues to be a public threat on a global scale. The ongoing need to develop new antimicrobial drugs that are effective against multi-drug-resistant pathogens has spurred the research community to invest in various drug discovery strategies, one of which is drug repurposing—the process of finding new uses for existing drugs. While still nascent in the antimicrobial field, the approach is gaining traction in both the public and private sector. While the approach has particular promise in fast-tracking compounds into clinical studies, it nevertheless has substantial obstacles to success. This Review covers the art of repurposing existing drugs for antimicrobial purposes. We discuss enabling screening platforms for antimicrobial discovery and present encouraging findings of novel antimicrobial therapeutic strategies. Also covered are general advantages of repurposing over de novo drug development and challenges of the strategy, including scientific, intellectual property and regulatory issues.

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This work was supported by a Foundation grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (FRN-143215) and a Tier I Canada Research Chair award to E.D.B.

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  1. Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

    • Maya A. Farha
    •  & Eric D. Brown


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Both authors researched data for the article, substantially contributed to discussion of content, wrote the article, and reviewed and edited the manuscript before submission.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Correspondence to Eric D. Brown.

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