Antibiotic resistance is futile: Sanofi and CRO seek APIs in nature

(Picture credit: flickr/Michael Mortenson)

Sanofi has partnered with German contract research organisation (CRO) Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft to search for antibiotics in nature.

The collaboration could reverse a decline in the antibiotics pipeline, which the US Centre for Disease Control warned last year is contributing to the worldwide threat of antibiotic resistance.

Scientists from Sanofi and Fraunhofer will work together in a facility to be built in Giessen, Germany, focusing on treatment for serious infectious diseases and hospital-acquired infections that have not responded to conventional medicines.

Gram-negative bacteria

The team will analyse the genetic make-up of strains of  bacteria, “cultivating them under various conditions, stimulating them to produce active substances and investigating their effects” Laurence Bollack, Sanofi spokesman, told

In particular,” said Bollack, “there has been little progress in the area of Gram-negative bacteria, which include many hospital superbugs that can cause serious post-operative infections.

Currently available antibiotics were developed from compounds produced by bacteria grown in laboratories under standard conditions. Bollack explained the joint team would use a different process to create innovative antibiotics.

The scientists in the joint Sanofi-Fraunhofer research team will use a new, comprehensive approach to observe the biology of interaction and regulation in the presence of other bacteria, and will analyze the genetics of the strains.

Bacterial library

The team led by Peter Hammann, head of Sanofi’s infectious diseases External Innovation Unit, and Fraunhofer director Andreas Vilcinskas at a dedicated research building 40 miles north of Frankfurt named the Natural Product Centre of Excellence.

Until construction is finished, scientists will work at Sanofi’s site in Frankfurt, sourcing the organisms they will use in the research from the firm’s large natural products library, which has a collection of more than 100,000 different strains of microorganism, including bacteria and fungi.

The Sanofi Frankfurt research site has a long tradition in the development of antibiotics based on natural substances,” said Bollack, adding that it had been used to make penicillin – another drug derived from natural products – when it was owned by Hoechst AG.

Sanofi’s tuberculosis antibiotic rifampicin is also made from compounds found in nature. 

Second-biggest killer

There is a great medical need to fight infectious diseases, said Sanofi’s president of global R&D.

This is critical given the rise of antibiotic resistance worldwide especially in the hospital setting with increasingly frequent serious, often life-threatening infections, where few advances have been made in the recent years,” said Dr. Elias Zerhouni.

Sanofi said its research might extend its work beyond infectious diseases – the second biggest cause of death worldwide – to diabetes, pain and rare diseases.

A threat report by the US Centre for Disease Control in April 2013 said “the number of new antibiotics developed and approved has steadily decreased in the past three decades, leaving fewer options to treat resistant bacteria.”

Related News

Enyzmes from mushrooms could be magic for API makers

Mushroom enzymes could work cost saving magic for API makers say researchers

Single-use injection could help stop resistance from bacteria such as MRSA

PK/PD principles could tackle antibiotic resistance with single injection

Ease regulations to cure drug industry antibiotic resistance, says RPS

Ease regulations to cure drug industry antibiotic resistance, says RPS

Merck & Co set to lead fight against MRSA through Cubist buy, depsite US Cubicin patent ruling

Merck & Co set to be superbug-busting superstar despite US Cubicin ruling, analyst

Tteixobactin could delay dawn of post-antibiotic era

Resistance is…years away: New compound could delay post antibiotic era

Davos hosts the World Economic Forum this week

Antibiotics "a terrible business model" for Pharmas expert tells Davos

Image: iStock/fredmantel

Centauri buys nucleotide tech to develop alternatives to antibiotics

Image: iStock/Alkov

Antibiotic resistance most imminent threat to humanity, says bacteriophage maker

Roche to re-enter antibiotics market…again

Roche to re-enter antibiotics market…again

Avoiding Cross-Contamination in Antibiotic Manfacturing, the FDA Way

Avoiding Cross-Contamination in Antibiotic Manfacturing, the FDA Way

Pharma promotion exacerbating Superbug problems, says WHO

Irresponsible antibiotic promotion may speed Superbug spread, says WHO

New type of antibiotic to avoid resistance

Antibiotic to Resist Resistance as Pergamum Ink Development Deal

Related Products

See more related products

Submit a comment

Your comment has been saved

Post a comment

Please note that any information that you supply is protected by our Privacy and Cookie Policy. Access to all documents and request for further information are available to all users at no costs, In order to provide you with this free service, William Reed Business Media SAS does share your information with companies that have content on this site. When you access a document or request further information from this site, your information maybe shared with the owners of that document or information.