IMB researchers join international search for new antibiotics

12 April 2019

In an Australian-first, The University of Queensland will join forces with the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (GARDP) to tackle the growing problem of drug-resistant infections.

GARDP, a not-for-profit research and development group initiated by the World Health Organization, develops new or improved antibiotic treatments.

Dr Mark Blaskovich from UQ’s Community for Open Antimicrobial Drug Discovery (CO-ADD) said about 700,000 people died of drug-resistant infections every year. 

“CO-ADD at UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience has helped the global chemistry community identify more than 1500 potential new antibiotics since its launch in 2015,” he said.

“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, placing us dangerously close to a return to the pre-antibiotic era, when even simple infections caused death.”

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj AC said the partnership was an opportunity for UQ to help create meaningful change in the fight against antibiotic resistance.

“We have chosen to invest in addressing the critical need for research and development of new antibiotics, not just for our benefit but also for future generations who deserve the same access to life-saving treatments that we currently enjoy,” he said.

CO-ADD will have access to libraries of compounds from the US Calibr translational research institute and natural products from Germany’s Helmholtz-Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland.

GARDP’s Professor Laura JV Piddock said the aim of the partnership was to discover new compounds or drug combinations and to ensure new antibiotics were available to everyone who needed them. 

“We’re very excited about today’s announcement as natural products have yielded many of the antibiotics developed for clinical use to date,” she said. 

The partnership announcement coincides with the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases’ annual conference , where more than 10,000 experts will gather to hear the latest findings.