Data sharing enhances antibiotic R&D / Pew’s SPARK data-sharing platform

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Dear All,

Following the precept “Don’t repeat old mistakes — always make new ones,” a foundational goal of the CARB-X program was to provide open access to R&D data from terminated projects. As a tool to support such sharing (and more!), Pew Trusts created in SPARK, a Shared Platform for Antibiotic Research and Knowledge (link).

Since its creation in 2018, SPARK has now grown to be a 700+ user community from 60+ countries who maintain and share a compound database of both published and unpublished biological and biochemical antibiotic data (MICs, IC50s, etc.). 

As a commentary on both SPARK and the value of shared data, we now have a newly published article in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery (NRDD, link) by Wes Kim (Pew Trusts), Kevin Krause (Achaogen), Zak Zimmerman (Forge), and Kevin Outterson (CARB-X). The article provides brief comments on several SPARK successes:

  • Merck and Kyorin have recently shared data from a now-discontinued preclinical program investigating novel antibiotics targeting DNA gyrase and topoisomerase IV.
  • Achaogen has shared data on its terminated LpxC (a lipopolysaccharide synthesis enzyme) programs.
  • Forge compared its molecules head-to-head with Achaogen’s molecules in preclinical safety studies to ensure Forge’s molecules did not have the issues that have plagued previous LpxC programs.
  • Further building on the Achaogen contribution, Novartis has added data from discontinued programs targeting LpxA, LpxD and LpxK (3 other lipopolysaccharide synthesis enzymes).

This progress is marvelous to see and I was also encouraged to learn from the NRDD commentary that both SPARK and NIH have recognized the need to support data transfer: packaging and transferring the data from a closed program is not normally a high-priority budget item!

Well done to the SPARK team at Pew Trusts, CARB-X, and companies who have made data-sharing a priority … and fingers crossed for new insights! If you are not yet a member of the SPARK community, now would be a good time to join: go here to request access. 

All best wishes, –jr

John H. Rex, MD | Chief Medical Officer, F2G Ltd. | Operating Partner, Advent Life Sciences. Follow me on Twitter: @JohnRex_NewAbx. See past newsletters and subscribe for the future: https://amr.solutions/blog/. All opinions are my own.

Current funding opportunities (most current list is here):

  • The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Applicant Assistance Program (AAP) opens on October 22, 2020. This program provides no cost support for companies planning to apply for a Phase II, Fast Track, or Direct-to-Phase II SBIR or STTR Award. Go here for details.
  • Novo REPAIR Impact Fund closed its most recent round on 31 Jul 2020. Go here for current details.
  • 2020 funding rounds for CARB-X have not been announced.
  • The Global AMR R&D Hub’s dynamic dashboard (link) summarizes funders and projects by geography, stage, and more.
  • It’s not a funder, but AiCuris’ AiCubator offers incubator support to very early stage projects. Read more about it here.
  • ARLG (Antibiotic Resistance Leadership Group, link) is currently open for applications for its 2-year ARLG Fellowship program. The application deadline is 1 Dec 2020; full details are here.
  • Finally, you might also be interested in the most current lists of R&D incentives (link) and priority pathogens (link)


Upcoming meetings of interest to the AMR community (most current list is here):

  • In case you missed it, the 24 Sep 2020 Bootcamp #1 (“Moving from preclinical to clinical-stage: Challenges & opportunities”) is now available for replay: Get it here. The video for the 8 Oct 2020 Bootcamp #2 (“Exploring safety issues in antimicrobial drug development”) will follow shortly — check back at the current meetings webpage (link) to find it.
  • 5 Nov 2020 (online, 9-10.30am EST) webinar entitled “Aiming in the dark: what happens when disease spreads without diagnosis”, the third webinar in a 4-part series sponsored by Wellcome Trust entitled “AMR in the Light of COVID-19 Webinar Series; From hypothetical to reality: How COVID-19 foretells a world without antibiotics.” Go here to register.
  • 16 Nov 2020 (online, 9.30a-4.00p EST): FDA workshop entitled “Potential Approach for Ranking of Antimicrobial Drugs According to Their Importance in Human Medicine: A Risk Management Tool for Antimicrobial New Animal Drugs.” Go here for the FR notice and here for extended details, including registration.
  • 17 Nov 2020 (online, 17:00-18:30 CET): GARDP-sponsored webinar entitled “Discovery of new antibacterials using artificial intelligence (computational chemoinformatics)” moderated by Laura Piddock. Go here to register.
  • 18-24 Nov 2020 (everywhere): World Antimicrobial Awareness Week. For resources, go here for WHO’s home page for the week. The focus will be on two messages: “Antimicrobials: handle with care” and “United to preserve antimicrobials.”
  • 19 Nov 2020 (online, 9-10.30am EST) webinar chaired by Jeremy Knox entitled “Responding to difficult-to-treat infections: Role and responsibilities of governments, researchers, clinicians, industry and patients”, the final webinar in a 4-part series sponsored by Wellcome Trust entitled “AMR in the Light of COVID-19 Webinar Series; From hypothetical to reality: How COVID-19 foretells a world without antibiotics.” Go here to register.
  • 26-28 Jan 2021 (online, runs ~7.30a-5.00p Central each day): 4th Annual Texas Medical Center Antimicrobial Resistance and Stewardship Conference. Sponsored by McGovern Medical School, ARLG, and the Gulf Coast Consortia, the agenda includes both poster sessions and keynotes. The call for abstracts closes 18 Dec 2020. Go here for more details.
  • [NEW] 10-12 Mar 2021 (Stellenbosch, South Africa): The University of Cape Town’s H3D Research Centre will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a symposium covering the Centre’s research on Malaria, TB, Neglected Tropical Diseases, and AMR. Go here to register; abstract deadline is 15 Nov 2020.
  • 9-12 Jul 2021 (Vienna): Annual ECCMID meeting (#31)
  • 18-21 May 2021 (Albuquerque, New Mexico): Biannual meeting of the MSGERC (Mycoses Study Group Education and Research Consortium). Save-the-date announcement is here, details to follow.
  • 20-24 June 2021 (Toronto): International Symposium on Pneumococci and Pneumococcal Diseases (ISPPD-12). Go here for details.
  • 3-7 Jun 2021 (Anaheim), ASM Microbe 2021. Go here for details.
  • 27 Jun-2 Jul 2021 (Ventura, CA): Gordon Research Conference entitled “Antimicrobial Peptides”. Go here for details, go here for the linked 26-27 Jun Gordon Research Seminar that precedes it.
  • 5-21 Aug 2021 (Marine Biology Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA): Residential course entitled “Molecular Mycology: Current Approaches to Fungal Pathogenesis.” This 2-week intensive training program has run annually for many years and gets outstanding reviews. Go here for details.
  • 8-11 Oct 2021 (Aberdeen, Scotland): 10th Trends in Medical Mycology. Go here for details.
  • [Webinar streaming link posted] 16-24 Oct 2021 (Annecy, France): Interdisciplinary Course on Antibiotics and Resistance (ICARe). This is a soup-to-nuts residential course on antibiotics, antibiotic resistance, and antibiotic R&D. The course is very intense, very detailed, and gets rave reviews. Registration is here and is limited to 40 students. Bonus feature: For obvious reasons, the course didn’t happen in 2020! But as a celebration of the course’s 5th year, a webinar version was held on 29 Oct 2020: go here to stream it. 
  • 6-11 Mar 2022 (Il Ciocco, Tuscany): Gordon Research Conference entitled “New Antibacterial Discovery and Development”. Go here for details, go here for the linked 5-6 Mar Gordon Research Seminar that precedes it.

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