Multi-actor partnership tests natural products and compound libraries for antibacterial activity Discovery efforts will focus on World Health Organization's (WHO) priority pathogens The Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (GARDP) is partnering with Calibr, the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI), in particular its location Helmholtz-Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS), and the University of Queensland's (UQ) Community for Open Antimicrobial Drug Discovery (CO-ADD) in its efforts to develop and ensure new antibiotics are globally available to all patients who need them. The agreement allows GARDP to access and test Calibr's ReFRAME compound library and HIPS natural products library. Both libraries will be screened by CO-ADD to discover novel compounds or combinations of drugs that will kill the priority pathogens identified by the World Health Organization in critical need for research and development of new antibiotics.
With few antibiotics in development since the early 1990s, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a major and rapidly growing global health challenge that is already making previously easy to treat infections harder to treat. Approximately 700,000 people worldwide die of drug-resistant infections every year and this number is expected to increase significantly in the future. Serious bacterial infections, and in particular Gram-negative bacterial infections, have been identified by the WHO as a global public health priority.
"One of the biggest challenges in the fight against AMR is discovering new antibiotics to treat the critical priority pathogens. That's why it's essential we conduct novel discovery research to populate a robust pipeline," said Professor Laura JV Piddock, Director of Scientific Affairs at GARDP. "We're very excited about today's announcement. Natural products have yielded many of the antibiotics developed for clinical use to date. Through Calibr, we are aiming to identify compounds that will potentiate the activity of an important antibiotic rendered ineffective by resistance."
This is GARDP's first discovery collaboration that links partners in Germany and the USA with Australia. Through this screening, GARDP seeks to identify novel compounds suitable for optimization and clinical development as drugs for patients.
"There is an urgent need to find new antibiotics against pathogens that have developed drug resistance, and partnering with GARDP is a terrific opportunity to leverage Calibr's ReFRAME collection to explore whether existing drugs can be repurposed as effective antibiotics," says Arnab Chatterjee, Vice President of Medicinal Chemistry at Calibr, the drug discovery division of Scripps Research.
"This is a superb opportunity allowing us to combine the expertise of GARDP, CO-ADD and HZI/HIPS in our search for novel antibiotics, especially against the most threatening pathogens according to WHO's classification. We very much hope that this joint development can be expanded and intensified in the future to also include, for example, additional partners from the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF)," says Prof Rolf Müller, Executive Director, HIPS and Head of Microbial Natural Products Department.
"This new partnership is an exciting opportunity for UQ to engage with GARDP and their network of international collaborators, and make a real difference to the fight against antibiotic resistance by conducting novel discovery research," said UQ's President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Høj.
"CO-ADD has been highly successful in helping the global chemistry community to identify over 1500 potential new antibiotics since its launch in 2015," said Dr Mark Blaskovich, co-founder of CO-ADD. "We are looking forward to applying our screening expertise to discover new antibiotics within the interesting libraries of compounds identified by GARDP. International initiatives such as this are essential to refuel the antibiotic pipeline, which has been neglected in recent years and placed us dangerously close to a return to the pre-antibiotic era, when even simple infections caused death.
"The announcement of this multi-partner agreement comes as over 10,000 experts come together to present their latest findings at the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases' annual conference.