AstraZeneca has linked up with Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) in a deal which they say aims to reverse the "global rising tide of antibiotic resistance".

The partners have signed a three-and-a-half-year collaboration to develop new antimicrobials to combat Gram-negative bacterial infections, which are believed to cause two-thirds of all hospital acquired infection deaths. Under the terms of the agreement, AstraZeneca and A*Star's Experimental Therapeutics Centre (ETC) will focus on generating "high-quality preclinical development candidates".

Financial details have not been disclosed but A*Star noted that the agreement covers commercialisation and licensing of any arising intellectual property. ETC chief executive Alex Matter said that "the synergy between our novel approaches in lead generation and optimisation and AstraZeneca’s established track record in anti-infectives would give us both a fighting chance in tackling the challenge of penetrating the Gram-negative bacterial armour".

Benjamin Seet, executive director of A*Star's Biomedical Research Council, claimed that the collaboration "is a clear endorsement from one of the leading global pharmaceutical companies that our biomedical research capabilities have come of age". He added that "it provides an example of how A*STAR partners with industry to bring value to the company and to Singapore".

Manos Perros, head of infection inovative medicines and early development at  AstraZeneca, said that antimicrobial resistance "is one of the world’s most serious health threats. There is an urgent need to develop new medicines to treat infectious diseases that have become resistant to antibiotics".

The announcement of the pact came just after Roche announced its return to antibiotics research by licensing a treatment for patients suffering from bacterial infections caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa from fellow Swiss firm Polyphor.