Centre for Superbug Solutions

Since the 1940s, scientists have been fighting to protect us from bacterial strains that continue to evolve. And we’re starting to lose the fight. Bacteria are developing resistance to antibiotics, our weapons against them, forcing us to find new ways to protect ourselves. The development of antibiotics has not kept up with the rate that resistance is developing. Some bacterial strains have become so advanced that we have no way to fight them. They’re called Superbugs, and they’re taking lives.

Bacterial infections kill more than 9000 Australians each year, and an estimated 700,000 worldwide. Without intervention, these numbers are set to increase exponentially. In fact, if a highly contagious strain of bacteria were to become resistant to antibiotics there would be a frightening epidemic. We would be plunged back into a pre-antibiotic era.

The Centre for Superbug Solutions is tackling the problem in three ways:

  1. Helping to stop the inappropriate use of antibiotics, which leads to resistance to antibiotics, by developing a diagnostic tool to identify infection. The doctor can then give the right drug, the first time, in time. 
  2. Rediscovering and optimising antibiotics that were discovered in the past but not developed into drugs.
  3. Crowdsourcing compounds from across the globe to uncover molecules with antimicrobial properties for the development of new antibiotics, through the Community for Open Antimicrobial Drug Discovery (CO-ADD).
We are leading the global fight to stop deadly superbugs.
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General information and enquiries


Research enquiries
Professor Mark Blaskovich
+61 7 334 62994

What are superbugs?

Superbugs are organisms that have developed resistance to currently available antibiotics, leading to multidrug resistance. Although more people die each year from bacterial sepsis than from breast and prostate cancer combined, the funding for antibacterial research is more than 10 times lower than for these diseases. New treatments are needed to prevent a return to the pre-antibiotic era, when even simple infections caused death.

Superbugs costs the Australian economy in excess of $1 billion each year, while bacterial infections kill more than 170 Australians each week. By understanding the chemistry and biology of these infections, we can use this knowledge to discover new drugs, and redesign existing drugs to improve their effectiveness and help save lives.

Fast facts

  • Bacterial infections kill more than 9000 Australians each year

  • Superbugs cost the Australian economy in excess of $1 billion each year

  • The World Health Organisation describes multi-drug resistant bacteria as “one of the greatest threats to human health today”

  • 4 IMB research labs dedicated to finding superbug solutions 

         Sourced from: ABC's The Drum, World Health Organisation




Chief Investigators

Rapid detection of bacterial infections

We are developing next-generation rapid and accurate diagnostics to quickly identify superbugs so we can give the right drug to patients the first time. This is important to better treat disease and reduce unnecessary antibiotic use.

New drugs to fight superbugs

Building on a suite of development candidate antibiotics from IMB, we combine some of Australia’s best minds in drug design and discovery to fast-track development of new antibiotics. More than $20 million of research grants has formed the backbone of an aggressive lead optimisation program to progress candidate antibiotics that can combat superbug infections.

A new antibiotic to treat MRSA (Golden Staph), S. pneumoniae, and C. difficile is at a commercialisation stage, with other research programs focused on innovative new approaches to treat tuberculosis and serious Gram-negative ‘ESKAPE’ human pathogens.

Breakthrough solutions

We are testing other solutions for the superbug problem. For example, we are investigating whether we can disarm the bacteria with drugs rather than killing them, thereby reducing the pressure on the bacteria to develop resistance to the drug.

Animal Health

Veterinary use of antibiotics is of increasing concern, with a strong campaign to reduce the agricultural industry’s reliance on conventional antibiotics. The Centre is investigating the use of the antimicrobial activity of byproducts from the wine industry to develop a ‘natural’ therapy to target skin infections in animals such as poultry and pigs.

Community for Open Antimicrobial Drug Discovery

CO-ADD is a not-for-profit global initiative led by IMB Cooper Research Group for academics. Our goal is to screen compounds from academic research groups from anywhere in the world for free. We aim to help researchers around the world to find new, diverse compounds to combat the superbug crisis, priming the antibiotic drug discovery pipeline.

Submit your compounds at www.co-add.org