Uppsala University in European initiative for new antibiotics

Anders Karlén is the coordinator for COMBINE

Anders Karlén is the coordinator for COMBINE

Photograph: Mikael Wallerstedt

Uppsala University is taking a leading role in COMBINE, a multinational collaboration where 11 partners from academia and the private sector are working together to chart new approaches for the more effective development of antibiotics.

With a central position in the new European collaboration COMBINE, Uppsala University is expanding its already strong commitment in speeding the development of new antibiotics. Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) – a partnership between the EU and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) – is behind this 25-million-euro initiative. Anders Karlén, professor of computational medicinal chemistry, is the project’s coordinator.

“Uppsala University is responsible for, among other things, coordinating communicating the initiative’s work, an important task that we hope will contribute to increasing awareness of the need for research on this both global and acute challenge. We will also offer administrative and information technology support to those project partners focusing on developing candidates for new pharmaceuticals aimed primarily at tuberculosis and infections caused by gram-negative bacteria.

Aimed at streamlining processes

Uppsala University also has a leading role in designing a standardised, preclinical reference model for developing antibiotics. This task includes formulating recommendations for interpreting results and guidance in how these results can predict the outcome of clinical studies.

“By combining Uppsala University’s theoretical expertise in medicinal chemistry with the Danish Statens Serum Institut’s experimental resources, we hope to create reproducible protocols. If we are successful, they will become very valuable assets with the potential to both simplify and streamline the process for those companies that are prepared to contribute to the vital search for new antibiotics,” says Anders Karlén.

Valuable experience

With COMBINE’s combined process support and project support, IMI is improving the potential for achieving the ambitious goals of the ongoing billion kronor initiative Antimicrobial Resistance Accelerator Programme to develop new preclinical pharmaceutical candidates, of which five are to be ready for phase 2 studies within six year. This is an initiative that is even more important considering the approaching end of ENABLE, another IMI-financed European programme where Uppsala University is leading development of potential antibiotics against gram-negative bacteria.

“Our nearly six years of experience with ENABLE has contributed to Uppsala University now having exactly the experience and expertise required to participate in a collaboration of this size. That we have been able to win this call for proposals can be interpreted as clear evidence of the great confidence and respect enjoys Uppsala University in the field of antibiotics.”

Facts about COMBINE

  • COMBINE: 1 November 2019 to 31 October 2025.
  • Partnership of 11 organisations in seven European countries.

The partner organisations are:

  • Academia: Uppsala University, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Paul-Ehrlich-Institut, Statens Serum Institut
  • Small and medium-sized enterprises Asclepia, BIOCOM, grit42, BEAM Alliance
  • Pharmaceutical company: GlaxoSmithKline, Evotec, Janssen Pharmaceutica N.V.

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