The IMI-backed project ‘GNA NOW’ kicks off its battle against antimicrobial resistance

New partnership will advance three antibacterial programmes as part of the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), a public-private European R&D consortium.

Today, Evotec SE announced that it will lead a new initiative for the development of novel antibacterial agents. The project is managed by Lygature and funded by IMI is called: Gram-Negative Antibacterials NOW (“GNA NOW”). The new GNA NOW project will work on the development of novel antibacterial agents to battle antimicrobial resistance in gram-negative bacteria. The multi-stakeholder consortium includes nine other partners from academia, industry and SMEs: Nosopharm, BIOASTER, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, North Bristol National Health Service Trust, University of Liverpool, Inserm, Erasmus Medical Center, Medical University of Vienna, and Fraunhofer IME, as well as the digital laboratory infrastructure specialists, grit42, from Copenhagen as subcontractors.

Collectively, the GNA NOW members will progress three programmes in parallel with the goal of bringing one through completion of Phase I studies and one reaching Investigational New Drug (IND) stage and/or up to two programmes reaching clinical development candidate stage, by 2024.

GNA NOW is supported by the Innovative Medicine Initiative (IMI), a joint initiative between the European Commission and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), of which Evotec is a member. The IMI, the world’s largest public-private partnership (PPP) in life sciences, will match Evotec’s in-kind contribution with a 12 million Euro grant over the next six years, to fund the activities of the consortium. This award will allow the partners of this consortium to build European platforms of excellence around each step of the critical path for drug discovery and development. European experts will join forces to contribute to “mechanism of action elucidation”, “medicinal chemistry and design”, “in vitro profiling”, “pre-candidate efficacy studies”, “candidate PK/PD studies”, “safety and ADME”, “CMC”, as well as “clinical studies and modelling”.

Dr. Cord Dohrmann, Chief Scientific Officer of Evotec, commented: “We are extremely glad to initiate GNA NOW with the backing of the European Commission and the EFPIA. Bacterial infections are a growing threat around the globe and are driving the need for innovative therapeutics with new mechanisms of action. GNA NOW gives us the opportunity to join forces with leading institutions of both the public and the private sector across Europe to develop new gram-negative antibacterial agents as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

CEO and co-founder of grit42, Claus Stie Kallesøe, adds, “When we first launched our company back in 2014, we immediately became part of the IMI project ‘New Drugs for Bad Bugs’ (ND4BB) TRANSLOCATION. It’s with great pleasure that we can announce being part of yet another IMI-backed project, which has several ties back to the original ND4BB project. We look forward to aiding the partners in the project by leveraging our digital laboratory infrastructure to streamline the data flows and making sure all data are FAIR compliant, among other things.

About antibiotic-resistant bacteria and GNA NOW
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria were estimated to be responsible for 670,000 infections and 33,110 attributable deaths in the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA) in 2015. From a global perspective, antimicrobial resistance could kill up to ten million people every year by 2050, which could cost up to € 94 trillion ($ 100 tn). In February 2017, the WHO published a list of priority pathogens for the development of new antibiotics. Carbapenem-resistant gram-negative bacteria (Enterobacteriaceae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Acinetobacter baumannii) were at the top of that list, with critical priority. GNA NOW is an Evotec-led joint initiative of eleven partners, project managed by Lygature, with the goal of developing novel antibacterial agents and bringing one of the three simultaneously developed compounds through completion of Phase I studies plus one compound reaching Investigational New Drug (IND) stage and/or up to two compounds reaching clinical development candidate stage, by 2024.

This project has received funding from the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking (JU) under grant agreement No 853979. The JU receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and EFPIA.