Bacterial cell walls are unique structures that serve as ideal targets for antimicrobial drugs. Agents that interfere with bacterial cell wall biosynthesis or cell integrity have been used therapeutically with high efficacy and good safety since the 1940s.Because there is no comparable structure in mammalians, bacterial cell wall inhibitors can exhibit high target specificity with side effect profiles that are not target related, unlike some other classes of antibiotics. In addition, cell wall–active agents are frequently bactericidal in their action, providing the opportunity for complete bacterial clearance in serious infections. In this Annals volume, the contributors explore the various roles of the bacterial cell wall as related to the physiology of bacteria and to the development of antibacterial drugs.
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