Increasingly resistant bacteria and no innovative drugs for six decades

Antimicrobial resistance is one of the major global public health problems. Almost all antibiotics introduced to the market are improved versions of broad-spectrum products approved before 1962. The WHO warns that research in this field is «stagnant.»

Gargallo-Viola, CEO and CSO of ABAC Therapeutics, who is participating in this article, is president of the Association for the Discovery of New Antibiotics in Spain (AD-ES) and spokesperson in our country for the European BEAM Alliance (Biotechs from Europe innovating in Anti-Microbial resistance), created in 2015 to encourage R&D of new antibiotics and develop new strategies to combat bacterial resistance.

The European BEAM Alliance, of which Domingo is the Spanish representative, is made up of 68 members spread across 16 European countries. “These companies are managing around 130 projects in the discovery and development phase of new antibiotics ”, he details. “At this moment they concentrate 80% of the portfolio of active products against multi-resistant bacteria. Globally, 79% of preclinical projects (171 out of 217) are under the umbrella of SMEs and, at the clinical level, 59 out of 80 projects”.

The clients of these SMEs and start-ups are the big pharmaceutical companies, in charge of the development and subsequent commercialization of the medicines, «but many of them are not interested in -antibiotics, with which the value chain in the area of diseases infectious is broken”.

As necessary incentives to end the established circle, Gargallo-Viola suggests that they should be aimed at promoting research and development of new classes of antimicrobial agents, but also others intended to support the commercialization of new molecules in a way that guarantees companies the return on investment of developing and positioning an antibiotic in the market”. Only then could this silent pandemic end.