GSK, AstraZeneca join others in antibiotic research program

Initiative to target antibiotic research, resistance, aid development of new therapies

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LONDON—Antibiotic research is getting a massive boost withthe announcement of a new industry-academia pact. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) andAstraZeneca have announced a new approach to antibiotic research, a researchprogram partnered with public companies to tackle issues such as antibioticresistance and other stumbling blocks in the development of more effectiveantibiotics. The undertaking will aim at improving knowledge of antibioticresistance, to design and undergo clinical trials and to move novel drug candidatesthrough clinical development. The initiative is part of the EuropeanCommission's Action Plan. 
"The steady rise of drug-resistant bacteria is an imminentand urgent threat to public health, and without a reliable arsenal of effectiveantibiotics, modern medical care is not possible. Bacteria develop resistanceas fast, or faster, than we can develop treatments and a combination ofscientific, regulatory, and financial challenges have impeded new antibioticdevelopment," Martin Mackay, president of research and development atAstraZeneca, said in a press release. "It is time to tackle this issue in adifferent way, sharing information and expertise among public and privatepartners – collaboration of this type is critical if we are to speed up thediscovery of these medicines to improve patient health."
The research program, NewDrugs4BadBugs, is supported by theInnovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), Europe's largest public-privateinitiative. The initial projects will be funded by a join budget of up to€223.7million (approximately $280.4 million)—€109 million (approximately $136.6million) from IMI and €114.7million (approximately $143.8 million) incontributions from the participating companies. GSK, AstraZeneca, Janssen,Sanofi and Basilea Pharmaceutica will work with public research organizations,with additional projects and funding expected to launch later this year.
According to GSK, the research program will begin with afocus on three areas, consisting of progressing the development of pipelineantibiotics, and streamlining the design of future clinical trials; GSK'sinvestigational antibiotic GSK 1322322, which is indicated for multi-drugresistant respiratory and skin infections (including MRSA); and informationsharing, with the hope that developing a platform to enable sharing acrossmultiple groups will lead to improved success with new antibiotics. Pursuantthe results of initial work, GSK1322322 will be joined by AstraZeneca'sMEDI4893, an investigational monoclonal antibody that targets a toxin releasedby Staphylococcus aureus, and AZD9773, an investigational treatment for severesepsis and septic shock.
Patrick Vallance, President, Pharmaceuticals R&D atGlaxoSmithKline, said: "The rise of infections such as MRSA is well known, buttoday marks a chance to reverse the threat. This announcement signals a newmodel of collaboration and a willingness to change and adapt to seek differentsolutions. GSK has a legacy in the development of new antibiotics going back 40years and we remain active in this field of research. We can bring ourscientific innovation and expertise to this novel collaboration which, incombination with the different skills and resources provided by other partners,provides a real opportunity to address the needs of patients today and preparefor the potential threats of tomorrow."
SOURCE: GSK press release

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