Australian microbial biodiscovery: from bugs to drugs

To maintain and improve the quality of life offered by modern healthcare requires an ongoing commitment to the development of new drugs, to improve and replace those that have become less effective, and to bring to the community safer treatments for an ever-wider array of important diseases. Irrespective of the specific medical need, the drug discovery pipeline is critically dependent on access to diverse, high-quality molecular libraries capable of inspiring drug-led discovery, and ultimately new drugs. A poor choice of chemistry leads to wasted resources and no drugs. Historically the pharmaceutical industry has relied heavily on microbial natural products, which represent an extraordinarily diverse, preassembled pool of biologically active molecules, programmed to be potent and selective modulators of key biopolymers, cells, tissues, organs and animals. Knowledge of Nature’s intellectual property, gleaned from the evolutionary equivalent of a billion-year global drug discovery program, with an unlimited budget and a workforce of trillions, can disclose privileged bioactive structures that inform, guide and inspire modern drug discovery, re-purposing ecological advantage to pharmaceutical benefit.

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Microbiology Australia 31 (Issue 2)

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