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Five pharma companies begin antibiotic research programme

Sanofi, GSK and AstraZeneca among the collaborators on European projects

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A pharma-backed programme to research the growing threat of resistance to antibiotics has seen the launch of its first two projects, which will receive combined funding of more than €200m.

The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) last year announced its intention to bring pharma, academia and biotech organisations together to help avoid what it described as a “public health emergency”, leading to the creation of the New Drugs for Bad Bugs (ND4BB) programme.

Through this programme, pharma companies including Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca and Janssen, will take a collaborative approach to researching new antibiotics, with bacterial infections growing resistant to current treatments leaving doctors with fewer options.

According to the IMI, a public-private healthcare partnership between the EU and members of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), a more open approach to research is necessary as there are “a number of scientific and regulatory hurdles that cannot be tackled by any individual organisation working alone”.

The matter is especially pressing considering antimicrobial resistance (MR) is responsible for about 25,000 deaths every year in the EU, with annual treatment and social costs estimated to be €1.5bn.

To combat this, the IMI has launched the COMBACTE and TRANSLOCATION projects, both of which are part of the (ND4BB) programme.

COMBACTE, which is backed by €194.6m in funding, will see researchers from GSK, AZ and Janssen team up with fellow scientists at universities from across Europe and Julius Clinical Research in the Netherlands to share knowledge in antimicrobial resistance.

One of the priorities of COMBACTE is the development of a pan-European clinical trial network, which will be able to recruit patients and conduct multinational clinical trials at all stages of development.

And in a move that will please open data campaigners, all data, including negative studies, will be published in peer reviewed journals, while investigators will have the opportunity to access patient level data from the studies after their publication.

Drug candidates expected to be investigated as part of this project include GSK's GSK1322322, which targets drug resistant respiratory and skin infections including MRSA, and AZ's MEDI4893 and AZD9773, which are in early investigation to target Staphylococcus aureus and severe sepsis due to bacterial infection respectively.

The other project launched by the IMI as part of the ND4BB is TRANSLOCATION, which will focus on identifying new ways of getting antibiotics into bacteria and preventing bacteria from expelling the drugs before they can take effect.

This project will received €29.3m in funding, and will see AZ, Basilea, GSK, Janssen and Sanofi work together with several universities and small- to medium-sized enterprises across Europe, as well as Bruker Daltonik -  a manufacturer of analytical and medical instruments.

Richard Bergstrom, director general of EFPIA, whose members help make up the IMI, said: “Not only are the projects invaluable but the framework in which the research is being done is also extremely important.

“I believe that PPP [public-private partnership] models are the future of research in the EU, the public and private sectors as good as they are at research will only be made better through collaboration such as this.”

11th February 2013

From: Research, Healthcare

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