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Antimicrobials: Developing new antimicrobials to fight fungal and bacterial infections

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Resistance to antimicrobials has shot up in the last decade and development of new antimicrobials continues to drop. Many, including the Centre for Disease Control in the United States, predict that we stand on the brink of a post-antibiotic era and that we will soon lack the necessary tools to treat bacterial and fungal infections. The Canadian Foundation for Infectious Disease estimates the annual cost for treatment and lost productivity due to infectious diseases to be in excess of $12 billion in Canada alone. The continuing rise in antimicrobial resistance forces an urgent and ongoing need not only to identify and validate new drug targets, but also to develop novel antimicrobial drugs against these targets. Carbohydrates play vital roles in many fungal and bacterial virulence processes. They are critical components of the cell wall—an antimicrobial target that is absent from human cells—and are key elements in adherence, immune evasion and antimicrobial resistance. Research in the field of glycomics has already validated attractive drug targets and we are poised to make further significant contributions in developing novel antimicrobial agents.