The scientists: Lluís Benitez, was a research associate working in a team led by Dr Lluís Ribas (Omnia, CSO), and was responsible for setting up the HTS screening platform at the Open Lab in Tres Cantos.
The sponsor: Omnia Molecular was founded in 2005 by Dr Lluís Ribas and is a spin-off from his work as principal investigator at the Barcelona Institute for the Research in Biomedicine. He has 18 years’ experience with Aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1993-1997) and The Scripps Research Institute (1997-2003). Omnia Molecular designs and develops novel anti-infectives targeted at difficult-to-treat infections in hospital, in particular those caused by pathogens that have developed resistance to existing antibiotics. Omnia's business model is to co-develop projects with pharma industry partners and out-license pre-clinical candidates after proof of efficacy in animal infection models.
Foundation funding: The Foundation provided £75,560.
GlaxoSmithKline’s contribution: GSK provided in-kind contributions (including facilities and expertise from supporting scientists to run the HTS from GSK’s collection of compounds).
Project Description: Tuberculosis is an old disease which continues to represent a significant challenge for global health affecting 10 million people and killing 2 million people each year. The emergence of multi-and extensive drug-resistance is a major problem, the cause of which is largely attributed to the misuse of antitubercular agents. At the moment, treatment is comprised of a combination of at least three different drugs that must be taken for a period of six months or longer. The burdensome side effects and the length of treatment often means patients don’t finish the course, which leads to a rise in drug-resistant strains. During his time at the Open Lab, Lluís focused on finding new classes of antibiotics to treat TB over a shorter period of time. Lluís ran a High Throughput Screening (HTS) of GSK´s compound sets to provide new starting points for the identification of potent and selective inhibitors against TB.
"Without access to GSK’s HTS facilities and extensive compound library advancing my research would be very difficult.” (Lluís Benitez, Open Lab scientist)