AstraZeneca looks to exterminate evolving bacteria

Posted on 10 Sep 2012

Medicine maker AstraZeneca and the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, are set to work together to speed up the development of new antibacterial and antiviral drugs.

Bacterial and viral infections remain a significant global health concern. According to the World Health Organisation’s Global Burden of Disease report, infectious and parasitic diseases are the world’s second-largest leading cause of death and disability, and the growth of antibiotic-resistant superbugs capable of evading existing treatments is on the rise.

The steady rise of  is an imminent and urgent threat to public health. Diseases such as tuberculosis are huge health challenges in the developing world and a re-emerging health issue in many developed countries after a rise in the amount drug-resistant bacteria.

AstraZeneca are collaborating to identify new chemical compounds that it hopes will lead to new products in an unresearched field, with only two new classes of antibiotics being introduced to the market in the past 30 years.

While the medical need to treat severe infections remains very high, the two organisations will work together to address this challenge by bringing together expertise in bacterial genomics and biochemistry under the two-year collaboration agreement.

Dr Manos Perros, vice president and head of the AstraZeneca Infection Innovative Medicines Unit, said that the two collaborative organisations have already identified several new projects to pursue. “We believe new and collaborative approaches between the private and public sectors will help speed the discovery and development of new treatments, particularly for antibiotic-resistant infections,” he commented.

AstraZeneca will seek to optimise, develop and commercialise potential compounds. The chemical library, created at the Broad Institute, comprises 100,000 customised molecules and it is designed to contain molecular shapes and structures that can hit even the most challenging biological targets.

Dr Michael Foley, director of the Broad Institute’s chemical biology platform, said: “The Broad is one of the few places that has made a meaningful investment in new chemistry in the last five years, and we welcome the opportunity to harness that investment to improve human health.”