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Understanding antibiotic resistance
Understanding antibiotic resistance

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4.1 Discovery barriers

After initial successes, non-target-based screening of soil samples soon became unviable. Known natural antibiotics were continually being ‘rediscovered’, making it difficult to identify promising new compounds. Meanwhile, the screening of chemical libraries faltered because their random contents did not lead to compounds with desirable characteristics.

However, new technologies may revive interest in both types of screening. Transcription profiling is a technique that identifies which genes are being expressed by bacteria. Profiling samples from soil or other microbe-rich environments is a quick way of distinguishing between rediscovered and novel antibiotics. Chemical libraries could also be created which are predisposed to generate compounds with antibiotic-like attributes.