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Research, Antimicrobial Resistance

Antimicrobial Resistance: A Threat that Calls for Non-Conventional Strategies

ISGlobal researchers publish a review on the most promising strategies and organise, in collaboration with Biocat and “la Caixa”, a B-debate on the topic


Multiresistant bacteria cause, only in Spain, around 29,000 deaths every year – 30 times more than road accidents. And the conventional strategies to find new drugs are not working. The good news is that a series of innovative strategies could come to fruition in the next years, according to a review published by researchers from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), an institution supported by “la Caixa”.

The aim of the review, published in Clinical Microbiology and Infection, was to compile the most successful strategies that are being pursued to discover new drugs against multiresistant bacteria. These “non-conventional” strategies are very diverse, and include: modifying existing drugs to bypass resistance mechanisms; finding new molecules in nature, for example in organisms living in extreme conditions or in our microbiota; compounds that “disarm” bacteria (virulence inhibitors); nanoparticles or antimicrobial peptides that enhance drug delivery; or viruses that specifically attack bacteria (phages). Some of the products obtained through these strategies have given encouraging results in the laboratory and are currently being tested in clinical trials. However, they may not reach the market without more funding opportunities and new industry incentives, warn the authors

A debate on new strategies in antimicrobial drug discovery

These new strategies are precisely the topic of the B-Debate “Reversing a Dystopian Future. New Strategies to Discover Antibacterial Agents” that will take place at CosmoCaixa, Barcelona, on November 12 – 14. The debate coincides by a few days with the WHO’s World Antibiotic Awareness Week (18-24 November), and is co-organised by ISGlobal researchers Sara Soto and Jordi Vila, director of the Antimicrobial Resistance Initiative, in collaboration with Biocat and “la Caixa”. The goal of the B-Debate is to bring together leading experts in microbiology and infectious diseases to review and share new strategies that are being developed to find new antibiotics.     

This is the second B-Debate on the topic. In the first one, held in 2013, the organisers highlighted this grave public health problem and published their conclusions in the journal New Microbes and New Infections


Vila J, Moreno-Morales J, Ballesté-Delpierre C. Current landscape in the discovery of novel antibacterial agents. Clin Microbiol Infect. 2019 Sep 28. pii: S1198-743X(19)30500-2. doi: 10.1016/j.cmi.2019.09.015.