Crowdsourcing compounds for new antibiotics

It is getting more and more difficult to find new antibiotics. One critical bottleneck to discovering new antibiotics is the limited chemical diversity that is currently screened for antimicrobial activity. Many antibiotics occupy unusual ‘chemical space’ compared to most drugs and most compounds found in commercial libraries. There are currently 57 million organic compounds deposited in the CAS registry, with significant untapped diversity in the ~36 million that originated academic laboratories. Every day thousands of chemists design and synthesize more.

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In February 2015 we launched the Community for Open Antimicrobial Drug Discovery (CO-ADD), a not-for-profit, open-access initiative tapping into this diffuse, but potential valuable resource. We reach out to chemists in academia and research organizations with compounds ‘sitting on shelves’. They do not need to be designed as antibiotics. Compounds are screened at no cost against key susceptible and drug-resistant bacterial and fungal pathogens, including E. coli, K. pneumoniae, A. baumannii, P. aeruginosa, S. aureus (MRSA), as well as the fungi C. neoformans and C. albicans. CO-ADD makes no claim to results or IP, and participants have 18 months to publish or patent their results before these are made available to the research community on a free, open-access database (hosted via chEMBL).

We hope a ‘one-stop shop’ can help fast track a novel hits from this early stage research program through to identification of an investigational new drug (IND) candidate. Chemists worldwide can submit compounds online for free antimicrobial screening at

Go to the profile of Matt Cooper

Matt Cooper

Prof. Chemical Biology, The University of Queensland

Infectious Disease, Antimicrobial Resistance, Drug Discovery, Diagnostics, Inflammatory Disease

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