The Community for Open Antimicrobial Drug Discovery aims to tap into the potential of the millions of compounds distributed around laboratories globally to be a source of new antibiotic leads by offering free screening for antimicrobial properties, with no strings attached.
There has been much written on the 'superbug crisis' over the past decade. Commonly cited causes include the over-use of antibiotics in humans and animals and the exit of many companies from antibacterial drug research and development (R&D) owing to the challenging market economics. However, there is another important cause — it is simply getting more and more difficult to find new antibacterial drugs. Most of the current arsenal of antibacterial drugs originated from screening of natural products in the 1950s–1970s. However, the 'low-hanging fruit' from this strategy appears to have been exhausted, and one alternative — target-based screening using knowledge of bacterial genomics — has failed to replenish the drug pipeline. Consequently, there has been a revival in interest in establishing antimicrobial screening platforms to interrogate previously untapped sources of chemical diversity.