Does Colombia hold the solution to the antibiotic crisis?

Antibiotic resistance is an immediate serious problem. There is a limited pipeline of new antibiotics largely due to the lack of financial incentive for pharma to develop them:

There is an urgent need for new antibiotic discovery. There is good reason to think that Colombia is in a strong position to supply this need:

  1. Colombia represents about 0.7% of the land surface worldwide and this area contains 10% of the world’s biodiversity, making Colombia a “megadiverse country” [1].
  2. New simple and cheap methods have been developed for culturing previously unculturable bacteria:

    It is likely that Colombia’s unique megadiversity is also reflected in the as yet undiscovered bacteria in her soil. This could prove a major untapped source for novel antibiotic discovery.

  3. Antibiotics represent a relatively straightforward entry point for Colombian startup pharma companies to establish themselves and create high skilled employment opportunities. Big Pharma has largely abandoned antibiotic development in favour of more lucrative sectors such as cancer therapeutics.


  1. Bueno, Juan, Ericsson David Coy, and Elena Stashenko. ‘Antimycobacterial Natural Products–an Opportunity for the Colombian Biodiversity’. Revista Española De Quimioterapia: Publicación Oficial De La Sociedad Española De Quimioterapia 24, no. 4 (December 2011): 175–83. [PMID: 22173186]

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