LONDON and CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Sept. 10, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- AstraZeneca and the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts today announce a collaboration to identify new chemical compounds targeting bacterial and viral infections that could speed the development of new antibacterial and antiviral drugs. Bacterial and viral infections remain a significant global health concern; according to the World Health Organisation's 'Global Burden of Disease' report, infectious and parasitic diseases are the world's second-largest leading cause of death and disability, and the growth of antibiotic-resistant "superbugs" that evade existing treatments is on the rise. However, few pharmaceutical companies are conducting research in this area. Only two new classes of antibiotics have been introduced to the market in the past 30 years. While the medical need to treat severe infections remains very high, the identification of high-quality lead compounds for drug development is a significant challenge. Under the two-year collaboration announced today, the two organizations will work together to address this challenge by bringing together deep expertise in bacterial genomics and biochemistry with a unique collection (or "library") of chemical compounds and chemical screening capabilities. The chemical library, created at the Broad Institute, comprises 100,000 customized molecules known as Diversity-Oriented Synthesis (DOS) compounds. It is designed to contain molecular shapes and structures not found anywhere else that can hit even the most challenging biological targets. Under the agreement, screening and hit-to-lead chemistry will take place in the Broad's Chemical Biology Platform and AstraZeneca will optimize, develop and commercialize potential compounds from identified, high-quality leads. Dr. Michael Foley, director of the Broad Institute's Chemical Biology Platform said: "We are thrilled to be working together with AstraZeneca on this project, which is closely aligned with the Broad Institute's mission to propel the understanding and treatment of human disease. The Broad is one of the few places that has made a meaningful investment in new chemistry in the last five years, and we welcome this remarkable opportunity to harness that investment to improve human health." Dr. Manos Perros, vice president and head of the AstraZeneca Infection Innovative Medicines Unit said: "We believe new and collaborative approaches between the private and public sectors will help speed the discovery and development of new treatments, particularly for antibiotic-resistant infections. We are very pleased to work hand in hand with the Broad Institute to combine our unique resources and strong histories in innovation, discovery and development to speed advancements in treatments for infections. Through this collaboration we have already identified several new potential projects to pursue."