ABAC Therapeutics and the University of Santiago de Compostela form a joint unit of screening for the discovery of new antimicrobial agents

  • A public-private collaboration agreement facilitates the creation of a joint unit for the screening and discovery of new antimicrobial agents.
  • Multi-resistant bacteria cause 39,000 deaths a year in Europe and the WHO estimates that by 2050 they will be the main cause of mortality in the world.

September 28, 2023.- Infections caused by resistant bacteria to antibiotic are, currently, one of the biggest global health problems, in terms of mortality, social and economic impact1. Multi-resistant bacteria cause 1.27 million deaths a year2, and the World Health Organization estimates that, by 2050, they will be the main cause of mortality in the world, claiming more than 10 million lives annually. The reason is that the same antibiotics that in past decades have helped save millions of lives are no longer effective against these bacteria. 

Pharmacological research, therefore, is faced with the challenge of providing, with the maximum urgency, new effective antibiotics to address this type of infections while also being affordable for the entire population. Facing this situation, the Innopharma Drug Discovery Platform, dependent on the Singular Center for Research in Molecular Medicine and Chronic Diseases (CiMUS) of the University of Santiago de Compostela, has reached an agreement with the company ABAC Therapeutics dedicated to the research in new antibiotics, to join forces in the search for new therapeutic solutions.

Specifically, both entities have agreed on the creation of a joint unit that allows, with maximum efficiency and cost optimization, the screening of collections of compounds, with the aim of identifying future antimicrobials that are active against resistant bacteria. 

“The resistance of bacteria to the activity of antimicrobial agents currently available represents one of the greatest threats to global health that humanity faces in the 21st century. The so-called silent pandemic has no borders, multidrug-resistant bacteria caused 39,000 deaths per year in Europe. Furthermore, this serious human catastrophe has a significant social and economic impact only in Europe representing 1,500 million euros annually, comments Domingo Gargallo-Viola, Director of ABAC Therapeutics. 

Bacteria become resistant due to their ability to mutate and adapt in response to adverse conditions, including the indiscriminate use of antibiotics among other causes, allowing some bacteria to escape their effect, which complicates the treatment of increasingly common infections (such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, sepsis, or gonorrhoea) making difficult their clinical management.

“It is urgent to discover and develop new classes of antibiotics to fight resistance and, to accomplish this, we want to carry out the screening of multiple collections of compounds with the aim of identifying new drugs against resistant bacteria. Only a strategy based on the medium and long term can respond to this serious global health problem”, says Mabel Loza, Director of CiMUS and the Innopharma platform.

Maximum security for a global health challenge

To carry out the research with live pathogenic microorganisms, pharmacologists are obliged to work with these resistant bacteria, which involve using a laboratory with maximum biosafety conditions, in which these dangerous microorganisms are manipulated with professional knowledge and technical safety. In the new collaborative unit, ABAC Therapeutics provides the appropriate facilities and experience working with resistant bacteria. In the other hand, the Innopharma platform possess the experience and unique infrastructure in Spain for the fully automated management of millions of compounds. 

The collaborative unit between ABAC Therapeutics and the Innopharma-USC Platform represents, therefore, a strategic opportunity to deal with the challenge of identifying new effective compounds against these organisms and to provide new therapeutic solutions for patients infected by pathogens resistant to current antibiotics. 

This pioneering unit is a model in Europe and opens the door to the incorporation of new collaborators, to develop synergistically and efficiently the urgent search for antimicrobials to fight this silent global pandemic, guaranteeing the accessibility of these new treatments to all people who may need them.

About ABAC Therapeutics

The company was created in 2014 with the aim of discovering and developing new antibacterial agents with a new perspective focused on precision medicine. The research is focused on the discovery of antibiotics with specific activity against pathogenic bacteria. The objective of ABAC is to provide great value to society, reducing the harmful impact both clinical and economic derived from the selection of multi-resistant bacteria that arise because of the indiscriminate and non-specific use of antibiotics that is currently made.

The ABAC Therapeutics team develops an innovative and disruptive project with a clear objective: to add value and improve people’s quality of life using a pharmacological strategy based on a new algorithm that allows the discovery of specific antibacterials capable of effectively combat infections caused by bacteria multi-resistant to available antibiotics.

About the Innopharma-CiMUS Platform of the USC

The Innopharma drug screening and pharmacogenomics platform is a High-Capacity Platform of the European research infrastructure consortium ERIC EU-OPENSCREEN. It has a set of cutting-edge technological capabilities that efficiently cover the different stages of the drug discovery process, allowing the team to develop projects in public-private collaborations, in which 17 drugs reached clinical trials in humans.

In the specific case of the joint unit with ABAC Therapeutics, in addition to this successful professional experience, it provides fully automated equipment, unique in Spain for the handling and management of millions of compounds.

It is located in the Singular Center for Research in Molecular Medicine and Chronic Diseases (CiMUS), a center of the University of Santiago de Compostela, a reference in translational and transfer research.


(1) World Health Organization fact  sheets https://www.who.int/es/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/resistencia-a-los-antibi%C3%B3ticos  

(2). Global burden of bacterial antimicrobial resistance in 2019: a systematic analysis. The Lancet January 19, 2022. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(21)02724-0