A consortium of European universities, research institutes and companies including GlaxoSmithKline and UK-based biotech Redx Pharma has launched an €85 million programme under the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) to develop novel antibiotics against Gram-negative pathogens.

The six-year ENABLE (European Gram-Negative Antibacterial Engine) programme is the third to date under the IMI’s New Drugs for Bad Bugs (ND4BB) programme on antimicrobial resistance, which was first unveiled in May 2012.

The ND4BB initiative is part of the European Commission’s Action Plan Against the Rising Threats from Antimicrobial Resistance and has featured in a number of IMI Calls for proposals since its launch.

The ENABLE project spans 13 countries and brings together 32 partners in total with the aim of establishing a significant antibacterial drug-discovery platform for advancing research programmes through to Phase 1 clinical trials.

Open calls

A preliminary portfolio of research programmes will be expanded through open calls outside the consortium to create a full development pipeline, with the ultimate goal of completing Phase 1 trials of at least one novel antibacterial for Gram-negative infections by 2019.

Redx Pharma’s chief executive officer, Dr Neil Murray, commented: “Gram-negative infections like e-coli are amongst the toughest to deal with and represent a grave threat to human health worldwide. We’re excited about the possibilities for IMI and the pioneering approach which is being spearheaded through this programme”.