Europe’s Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) said today it is launching the first two projects under its antimicrobial resistance research program “New Drugs for Bad Bugs” (ND4BB).

One new project, COMBACTE (Combatting Bacterial Resistance in Europe), will develop a pan-European clinical trial network capable of recruiting patients as well as conducting efficiently high-quality multinational trials at all stages of development. The €194.6 million ($260.4 million) project will also establish a pan-European laboratory network to deliver epidemiological information and data from microbial surveillance work to guide the selection of clinical trial sites.

Participating in COMBACTE are three pharma giants—AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, and Janssen Infectious Diseases Diagnostics—as well as Julius Clinical Research of the Netherlands and 16 universities, research organizations, public bodies, and nonprofit groups.

According to IMI, COMBACTE intends to pioneer a new collaborative model in which academic investigators will work with industry scientists to guide clinical research and development of antibiotics. By combining knowledge and expertise, IMI reasons, the investigators are likely to increase the probability of developing effective new medicines and addressing public health threats associated with antimicrobial resistance.

The other project, TRANSLOCATION (Molecular basis of the bacterial cell wall permeability), will focus on identifying new ways of inserting antibiotics into bacteria and preventing that bacteria from expelling the drugs before they can take effect. Investigators working on the €29.3 million ($39.2 million) project will work primarily on Gram-negative pathogens such as Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumonia, since drug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria account for two-thirds of the 25,000 deaths reported in Europe annually as resulting from antimicrobial resistance.

TRANSLOCATION involves five pharma companies—AZ, Glaxo, and Janssen, as well as Basilea Pharmaceutica and Sanofi—as well as Germany’s Bruker Daltonik, five small and medium-sized enterprises, and 14 universities, research organizations, public bodies, and nonprofit groups.

“Developing new antibiotics is challenging, but by bringing together experts from pharmaceutical industry, academia, and hospitals, these new projects will give a fresh impetus to the search for new weapons to fight the drug-resistant pathogens that have already killed so many in Europe and elsewhere,” IMI executive director Michel Goldman said in a statement.

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