Over 30 European universities, research institutes and companies, led by GlaxoSmithKline and Uppsala University, are joining forces in a six-year program supported by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) to develop novel antibiotics against Gram-negative pathogens in a project called ENABLE (European Gram-Negative Antibacterial Engine), including open calls for candidates outside the consortium.
The world faces a growing epidemic of antibiotic resistance; however, only two new classes of antibiotics have been brought to the market in the last 30 years. The discovery and development of new antibiotics is essential to maintain medical advances but poses significant scientific, clinical and financial challenges, particularly for antibiotics active against Gram-negative bacteria (such as E.coli). Such bacteria have effective barriers against drugs, making treatment difficult, resistance likely and development costs and risks high. In addition, any new antibiotics brought to the market would likely be used cautiously to delay the development of resistance, adding an additional financial challenge in recouping the development costs.
In response to such barriers in the development of novel antibiotics, the IMI, a research partnership between the E.C. and major pharmaceutical companies (through EFPIA, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations), 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 with the mission to establish a significant anti-bacterial drug discovery platform for the progression of research programs through discovery and phase I clinical trials. A preliminary portfolio of programs will be expanded through open calls to create a full development pipeline, with the ultimate goal to complete phase I clinical trials of at least one novel anti-bacterial for Gram-negative infections by 2019.
This joint public and private investment through the IMI reflects the changing nature of drug development for high-risk areas such as antibiotics, and has the mission to mobilize expertise from universities, research institutes and industry in Europe to meet global challenges. It places Europe at the forefront of collaborative research between industry and academia for health challenges.