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2011 NIAID Year In Review

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Targeting Human Cellular Functions to Prevent Microbial Infections

The cost of developing new antimicrobial drugs can be prohibitive, particularly when the treatment is effective against only one type of microbe. Additionally, antimicrobial drug discovery and use are continually subject to compromise by the emergence of antimicrobial resistance, which makes the products less effective. The development of therapies that target functions inherent to the microbe’s host organism is a potential solution to both of these challenges. Ongoing research continues to identify specific host functions and pathways that are required for infection by unrelated pathogens. 

The purpose of the NIAID Host-Targeted Interventions as Therapeutics for Infectious Diseases program, announced in FY 2011, is to discover and develop treatments that target host functions required for infection, replication, spread, and/or disease development by priority pathogens. Research suggests that an intervention that targets an essential host function would have broad-spectrum efficacy. Moreover, targeting a host function reduces selective pressure on the microbe to acquire resistant mutations, making resistance less likely to emerge. By using the knowledge of how microbes cause disease to develop drugs targeted against host functions, significant steps could be made toward treating many microbial threats, including priority pathogens deemed highly threatening to public health.

Last Updated January 08, 2013

Last Reviewed January 08, 2013