What is the Importance of Narrow-spectrum Antibacterial Targets?

Kirk Hevener, PharmD, PhD, explains the importance of narrow-spectrum antibacterial targets.

Kirk Hevener, PharmD, PhD, assistant professor of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Idaho State University, College of Pharmacy, explains the importance of narrow-spectrum antibacterial targets.

Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)

“The philosophy of my [infectious disease] laboratory at Idaho State University [is to] focus on the validation and characterization of what we hope will be novel antibacterial targets. Specifically, we are looking at targets that could potentially lead to the design of narrow-spectrum antibacterial or antibiotic agents that could specifically target a given pathogenic organism, but spare beneficial microorganisms in the human biome.

The reason that we’re looking at narrow-spectrum antibacterial targets is because broad-spectrum antibacterials, while they have great activity against the pathogenic organisms that they are administered to treat, they, unfortunately, also target what we call beneficial bacteria in the human body. It’s well-known at this point that there are a large variety of beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, on the skin, [and in the] genital-urinary tracts. When you use a broad-spectrum antibiotic it affects those as well, and what can happen is, in addition to the development of bacterial resistance, you can see other types of infections [such as] fungal infections. There’s a fungal infection called thrush that develops in the mouth when people take broad-spectrum antibiotics for certain types of oral infections. There’s also a bacterial infection known as Clostridium difficile that is a gastrointestinal infection that’s associated with the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics.

In my laboratory, we’re looking at characterizing narrow targets, so that we can spare those beneficial bacteria and avoid, not only, the development of antibacterial resistance, but also the adverse complications of overgrowth of pathogenic organisms by destroying beneficial bacteria with broad-spectrums.”