GlaxoSmithKline joins a $115M antibiotics development initiative

Resistance to antibacterials is fast becoming one of the most urgent public health problems, especially since the pipeline for new antibiotics largely has dried up after Big Pharma's retreat from the field in recent years.

To help combat growing antimicrobial resistance, more than 30 European universities, research institutions and drug companies are joining together to launch a 6-year, €85 million ($115.5 million) program to develop novel antibiotics against Gram-negative pathogens.

GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) and Sweden's Uppsala University are heading the collaborative project, called European Gram-Negative Antibacterial Engine (ENABLE), with support from Europe's Innovative Medicines Initiative.

Gram-negative bacteria cause infections including E. coli, pneumonia, bloodstream infections and meningitis and are spread most easily in healthcare settings. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gram-negative bacteria are resistant to multiple drugs and increasingly resistant to currently available antibiotics on the market.

The project will solicit open calls for drug candidates outside the consortium to create a full development pipeline. The initiative's ultimate goal is to complete Phase I clinical trials of at least one novel antibacterial for gram-negative infections by 2019.

Academic-industry collaborations like these are being more common, especially in high-risk fields, as Big Pharma companies trim their R&D budgets.

- here's the press release