History, Chemistry and Antibacterial Spectrum

Tony Velkov, Philip E. Thompson, Mohammad A.K. Azad, Kade D. Roberts, Phillip J. Bergen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Otherpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Polymyxins are naturally occurring cyclic lipopeptides that were discovered more than 60 years ago. They have a narrow antibacterial spectrum, which is mainly against Gram-negative pathogens. The dry antibiotic pipeline, together with the increasing incidence of bacterial resistance in the clinic, has been dubbed ‘the perfect storm’. This has forced a re-evaluation of ‘old’ antibiotics, in particular the polymyxins, which retain activity against many multidrug-resistant (MDR) Gram-negative organisms. As a consequence, polymyxin B and colistin (polymyxin E) are now used as the last therapeutic option for infections caused by ‘superbugs’ such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Acinetobacter baumannii, and Klebsiella pneumoniae. This chapter covers the history, chemistry and antibacterial spectrum of these very important last-line lipopeptide antibiotics.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPolymyxin Antibiotics
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Laboratory Bench to Bedside
EditorsJian Li, Roger L. Nation, Keith S. Kaye
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9783030163730
ISBN (Print)9783030163716
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

NameAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
ISSN (Print)0065-2598
ISSN (Electronic)2214-8019


  • Aerosporin
  • Antibacterial spectrum
  • Chemical structure
  • Discovery of polymyxins
  • Methanesulphonate

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