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Identifying potential antibiotic leads is painfully slow, but these researchers identified 5 in only 6 years

ENABLE surpassed their goal of identifying 3 leads for new antibiotics. With several more compounds in the pipeline, the project has been extended.

Gram negative stain of E.coli bacteria.  The project partners in ENABLE have identified potential new antibiotic leads for beating the increasingly resistant bug. Image by Gulnazakh CC BY-SA 4.0


The IMI-funded ENABLE project was launched in 2014 to speed up the development of new antibiotics for the treatment of Gram-negative systemic infections. The project has achieved and surpassed its initial goals, having so far identified 5 antibacterial leads, selected 2 antibacterial development candidates and advanced 1 compound into preclinical and phase one clinical studies.

With several promising compounds in the pipeline, IMI granted the project a one year no-cost extension (i.e. total spend will remain within original budget). Here’s a breakdown of the achievements of the research teams so far:

  • ENABLE currently has 10 active programmes: 6 are in Hit to Lead, 2 in Lead to Candidate, 1 in Candidate to Phase I and 1 in Phase I.
  • ENABLE selected its first candidate – Juvabis’ apramycin programme – in October 2018. Mutabilis’ candidate MUT485 received candidate status in November 2019.
  • Juvabis’ clinical candidate apramycin is currently evaluated in a Phase I randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled single ascending dose study in healthy volunteers. Apramycin is an aminoglycoside antibiotic which has demonstrated promising efficacy against multidrug-resistant bacteria. First results are expected in 2020.

What they're saying

IMI Director Pierre Meulien, commenting on the news of the achievements and extension: “Antimicrobial resistance is a major threat to public health worldwide, and we urgently need new antibiotics. The successes of ENABLE show that by bringing together diverse stakeholders, it is possible to deliver results in what is a very challenging area.”

Anders Karlén, leader of ENABLE Managing Entity and professor at Uppsala University, said: “This achievement is an immense success given the complexity and number of partners involved. We have brought the leading experts in the antimicrobial resistance field together, set up a unique and effective collaboration and delivered.”


In ENABLE, over 50 European partners from academia and industry, co-led by GlaxoSmithKline and Uppsala University, joined forces in a 6-year project funded by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) to develop novel antibiotics against key Gram-negative bacteria such as E. coli, K. pneumoniae, P. aeruginosa and A. baumannii. ENABLE has rapidly succeeded in building a bottom-up drug development engine with an engaged group of highly competent scientists all working towards new drugs.

ENABLE is part of IMI’s ND4BB (“New Drugs for Bad Bugs”) programme.

Read more 

ENABLE press release: “Goals achieved – Mission continues

Mutabilis Press Release from November 2019 “ENABLE selects new antibiotic candidate

Juvabis Press Release from November 2019 “Swiss start-up Juvabis announces start of Phase I study of its best-in-class aminoglycoside antibiotic apramycin


Related projects: 

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