Australian-European alignment for new antibiotics

9 Feb 2016

The Community for Open Antimicrobial Drug Discovery (CO-ADD) at The University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) and the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) ENABLE project have aligned to develop potential new antibiotics against multi-drug resistant bacterial infections.

Multi-drug resistant bacteria, also known as superbugs, kill hundreds of thousands of people every year; if left unchecked an estimated 10 million of us could die from superbug infections by 2050.

CO-ADD screens compounds from academic chemists for free against five disease-causing bacteria and fungi, while ENABLE optimises hits into clinical candidates and further progresses promising antibacterial compounds to clinical trials

The alignment creates the possibility of funding and collaboration for programmes, with antimicrobial compounds identified by CO-ADD progressing to ENABLE’s drug development programme if they meet project thresholds.

CO-ADD Director Professor Matthew Cooper said antibiotic resistance is a global threat that requires a global solution.

“The pipeline for antibiotic discovery, development and approval is broken – we need to fix it now,” Professor Cooper said.

“CO-ADD sits at the beginning of this pipeline and aims to help researchers around the world find new, diverse compounds to combat drug-resistant infections by offering free screening for antimicrobial activity.

“This alignment will allow promising antibacterial compounds CO-ADD has identified from European chemists to proceed into ENABLE, the next step of the pipeline, and advance them into the clinical stage.”

IMI ENABLE Director Professor Anders Karlén said the relationship between CO-ADD and ENABLE is an excellent way to strengthen the development of potential novel antibiotics.

“We welcome this initiative, which extends opportunities for the global chemistry community to have their compounds tested for primary activity against bacteria and fungi up to hit confirmation with CO-ADD, and then potentially develop their programme through IMI’s ENABLE pipeline in Europe,” Professor Karlén said.

“Academic programmes selected for the ENABLE project strengthen researcher positions as being innovative and translational drivers in the antibacterial R&D community.”

CO-ADD beneficiaries from within EU small companies and research organisations will be able to submit promising anti-infective programmes for consideration by the ENABLE project for funding and support in order to develop programmes from hits through to phase I clinical trials.

CO-ADD is a not-for-profit initiative funded by the Wellcome Trust and led by researchers at IMB.

IMI is Europe's largest public-private initiative aiming to speed up the development of better and safer medicines for patients.

ENABLE is one of seven projects in IMI’s New Drugs For Bad Bugs (ND4BB) programme. This €85m (AUS $148m) project aims to identify at least three lead molecules with promising antibacterial activity, two antibacterial of which clinical candidate molecules and to enter at least one compound into preclinical and Phase 1 clinical trials.

Join the partnership this June at the 2016 BIO International Convention in San Francisco, California, when IMI ENABLE and CO-ADD present a panel of key experts to address the critical issue of anti-infective development and the need for global alignment throughout the development chain.

Panel Title: Alignment of global anti-infective research and development to the patient

Panel speakers: Stephen Caddick, The Wellcome Trust Director of Innovations; Carolyn Shore, The Pew Charitable Trust Officer; Pamela Tenaerts, Duke University Executive Director, Clinical Trials Transformation Project; and Pierre Meulien, Innovative Medicines Executive Director.

CO-ADD Media contact: Ruth Neale,, +61 (0) 487 955 790

IMI ENABLE Media contact: Claire Skentelbery,, +32 (0)493 191810