IMI launches €223.7m project to combat antibiotic resistance


Academics and five pharma firms will share research data and improve efficiency of clinical trials

The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) is launching a €223.7m NewDrugs4BadBugs programme aimed at tackling antibiotic resistance and speeding up the delivery of new antibiotics to patients.

Leading academics and five major pharmaceutical firms (GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, Janssen, Sanofi and Basilea Pharmaceutica) will collaborate in the project, which is part of the European Commission’s Action Plan against the rising threats from Antimicrobial Resistance, introduced last November.

The first set of projects has been launched today (24 May) with a joint budget of €223.7m, consisting of €109m from the IMI and €114.7m provided by in-kind contributions from participating European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) members.

The IMI says this major programme on antimicrobials is expected to utilise up to €600m in funding over the next seven years and offers ‘an antidote to the fragmentation and lack of incentives which are currently holding back antibiotics research’.

The initial projects will focus on building and training networks of researchers, facilitating and increasing the exchange of research data, and improving the efficiency of clinical trials on new antibiotics through better laboratory tests and better trial design.

The novel trial design will be applied in clinical trials on new antibiotics to fight particularly resistant bacteria. For example, trials will target MRSA, and in addition new methods will be explored to improve antibiotic uptake by a specific group of Gram-negative resistant bacteria.

Patrick Vallance, president of Pharmaceuticals R&D at GlaxoSmithKline, said: ‘The rise of infections such as MRSA is well known, but today marks a chance to reverse the threat. This announcement signals a new model of collaboration and a willingness to change and adapt to seek different solutions.’

Martin Mackay, president, R&D, at AstraZeneca, added: ‘Bacteria develop resistance as fast, or faster, than we can develop treatments and a combination of scientific, regulatory, and financial challenges have impeded new antibiotic development.

‘It is time to tackle this issue in a different way, sharing information and expertise among public and private partners – collaboration of this type is critical if we are to speed up the discovery of these medicines to improve patient health.’

Basilea’s chief scientific officer, Laurenz Kellenberger, stated: ‘We have joined this collaboration because of our strong belief in its significant value to all stakeholders concerned with fighting antimicrobial drug resistance.

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‘The mutual scientific and financial advantages of the initiative will contribute to increasing the chances of finding new effective antimicrobial drugs. Together with ongoing positive developments in the regulatory and legislative areas we see the environment becoming even more attractive and rewarding for small company innovators.‘