The antibiotic pipeline is broken, with a dearth of new antibiotics, a collapse in pharmaceutical company research1, and the exhaustion of chemical diversity contained in pharma libraries. "The low hanging fruit from the antibiotic tree has probably already been picked and new sources of compounds are needed."2 We believe that there is an untapped resource contained in the laboratories of synthetic organic chemists; synthetic compounds prepared for other projects that have never been tested for their antimicrobial potential. These compounds, which are sitting at the back of benches and freezers, may have been synthesised to validate new synthetic routes, develop new methodologies, or create unusual structures. A global screening initiative will uncover this significant and rich chemical diversity held outside of corporate screening collections by providing a low-barrier access to testing.
Antibacterial drugs occupy a unique property space that is vastly different to drugs developed for other therapeutic areas, suggesting that commercially available chemical compounds lack the physicochemical properties ideal for activity against bacteria and therefore, a varied source of chemical diversity needs to be investigated.
We have created a Wellcome Trust-supported not-for-profit Open-Access initiative, The Community for Open Antimicrobial Drug Discovery [CO-ADD], to provide unencumbered free antimicrobial screening for any interested researcher.3 CO-ADD builds upon a suite of established in vitro and in vivo assays, medicinal chemistry and core researcher expertise and aims to unearth fresh chemical diversity for the treatment of bacterial infection.