The U.K.’s LifeArc (previously MRC Technology) and Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and Canada’s Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD) established a partnership to identify novel antibacterial targets as the foundation for multidrug resistance (MDR) antibiotic drug discovery and development.programs.

The organizations say that while antibacterial drug discovery has to date focused primarily on single species resistance, the LifeArc, CDRD, and Dstl partnership will take “a more holistic approach,” and focus on commonality across species to identify drug resistance genes and proteins. The most promising validated targets will be then be published and potentially progressed into drug discovery.

Timothy Atkins, Ph.D., senior fellow at Dstl, said the ability to protect both the civilian population and armed forces against infectious diseases will involve developing new antibacterial agents against a broad spectrum of pathogens. “To achieve this challenging goal we need to be working with scientists at the forefront of their respective disciplines,” he said. Edie Dullaghan, Ph.D., head of target validation at CDRD, suggested that the collaboration wtih Dstl and LifeArc will be “uniquely positioned to create an effective path forward for the discovery and development of novel antibacterial drugs.”

Justin Bryans, executive director, Drug Discovery at LifeArc, added, “LifeArc’s strategy is to create Communities for Impact (CfI) where we work in collaboration with cutting-edge organizations such as Dstl and the CDRD. …The discovery of new antibacterial drugs is becoming increasingly urgent and we are excited by the potential for this collaboration, as each party brings a piece of the jigsaw to enable the CfI as a whole to make a real impact in this field.”

Separately today, MerLion Pharmaceuticals reported that its collaboration with Dstl won a grant from the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) Chemical and Biological Defense Program to develop MerLion's fluoroquinolone antibiotic finafloxacin against potential biowarfare agents and MDR infections.

Earlier this month, MRC Technology announced its new name, LifeArc, and plans to invest £500 million ($647 million) over five years into innovative research in key theareutic fields including antimicrobials.

CDRD is Canada’s national drug development and commercialization engine. Already this month, the organization announced a cannabinoid therapeutics partnership with Aequus Pharmaceuticals and reported a partnership between its spinout company Sitka Biopharma, Cancer Research UK (CRUK), Cancer Research Technology (CRT), and the University of British Columbia (UBC) to start early clinical development with Sitka’s bladder cancer therapeutic candidate STK-01.