€85 million funding for new antibiotics

Plans to develop a novel antibiotic to target the growing threat of drug resistant bacterial infections have been unveiled.

The new €85 million ENABLE project is part of a wider public-private initiative in Europe to develop new antibiotics, which are desperately needed.

The world is facing a potential crisis, as resistance to existing antibiotics grows, while the development of new antibiotics has almost ground to a halt – only two new classes of antibiotics have been brought to the market in the last 30 years.

Over 30 European universities and companies, led by GlaxoSmithKline and Uppsala University, are joining forces in the six year ENABLE (European Gram Negative Antibacterial Engine) programme to develop novel antibiotics against Gram-negative pathogens.

Gram-negative bacteria (such as E.coli) pose one of the greatest challenges – such bacteria have effective barriers against drugs, making treatment difficult, resistance likely and development costs and risks high. Moreover, any new antibiotics brought to the market are likely be used cautiously to delay the development of resistance, making it difficult for any single pharma company to recoup the development costs.

Public-private partnership

The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) is a research partnership between the European Commission and major pharma companies (through EFPIA), and has launched New Drugs for Bad Bugs (ND4BB), a series of projects to target the bottlenecks in the development and effective use of novel antibiotics.

The ENABLE project, the third within the ND4BB series, spans 13 countries and brings together 32 partners to establish a significant anti-bacterial drug discovery platform to bring molecules from discovery into Phase 1 clinical trials. A preliminary portfolio of programmes will be expanded through open calls outside the consortium to create a full development pipeline, with the ultimate goal to deliver at least one novel anti-bacterial candidate against gram-negative infections into Phase 2 clinical trials by 2019.

The project’s leaders say it places Europe at the forefront of collaborative research between industry and academia for health challenges.

“MEDINA brings to the project one of the novel antibiotic molecules that will be developed within this partnership. Our participation in this programme represents a fantastic opportunity to jointly develop one of our most advanced compounds in our pipeline” said Olga Genilloud, Scientific Director.

MEDINA (Fundación MEDINA) is a non-profit R&D organisation established jointly by MSD, the government of Andalucía and the University of Granada in Spain. The centre discovers new molecules from its proprietary natural product libraries.


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