Australian and French researchers team up to discover new antibiotics

8 Apr 2016

Researchers from The University of Queensland (UQ) are advancing their mission to discover new antibiotics capable of combating multi-drug resistant bacterial infections after signing an agreement to screen the entire French National Chemical Library.

UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) Centre for Superbug Solutions is developing new infection tracking methods, diagnostics and therapeutics to combat multi-drug resistant bacterial infections.

The French National Chemical Library comprises 63,000 molecules provided by academic chemistry laboratories and is managed by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and 42 contributing organisations in France.

The collection will be screened for antimicrobial activity against five bacteria and two fungi via the Community for Open Antimicrobial Drug Discovery (CO-ADD), a not-for-profit initiative funded by the Wellcome Trust, and led by researchers at IMB.

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

“CO-ADD aims to help researchers around the world find new, diverse compounds to combat drug-resistant infections,” Professor Cooper said.

“We are delighted to engage with the nationwide community of chemists in France.

“In screening the French National Chemical Library, we will explore the diversity in the compounds coming out of chemistry laboratories at the scale of an entire country, something that has never been done in the past.

“The next antibiotic could be out there, hiding within this collection of molecules.”

Since launching in 2015, CO-ADD has screened 38,000 compounds from 150 participating groups across 30 countries, including a subsection of 600 compounds from the French National Chemical Library.

Philippe Jauffret, Director of the CNRS Unit for the French National Chemical Library management, expressed the satisfaction and enthusiasm of the French scientific community to participate in this great international collaborative project, in response to the major societal issue of antibiotic resistance.

“CO-ADD fits perfectly within the missions of the French National Chemical Library to build collections of original chemical compounds and develop partnerships at the chemistry-biology interface to understand and treat living systems,” he said.

The UQ-based team will establish the world’s first antimicrobial-focused open access database of chemical compounds to help researchers understand how antibiotics work and identify which compounds could become effective antibiotics.

European collaborators with promising antimicrobial compounds identified by CO-ADD will then be able to apply for the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) ENABLE’s drug development programme to further develop them.

About CO-ADD: www.co-add.org

About French National Chemical Library: www.chimiotheque-nationale.org

Contact: CO-ADD Marketing and Communications Officer Ruth Neale, r.neale1@uq.edu.au, +61 (0) 487 955 790; or IMB Communications, communications@imb.uq.edu.au, +61 7 3346 2134.

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