Govt launches £10m research competition to tackle antimicrobial resistance

The government has launched a competition to develop new ways of tackling antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in humans – with a funding of up to £10m going to successful bids.

Govt has launched a competition to develop new ways of tackling antimicrobial resistance in humans – image courtesy of Depositphotos.

For several years the government has been trying to take a leading role in the fight against AMR, which poses a significant threat to health across the world as harmful bacteria develop resistance to commonly-used antibiotics.

Treatable infections could become life-threatening as pathogens begin to develop resistance to older antibiotics, as years of underinvestment from pharma has led to a lack of newer alternatives.

The latest competition makes up to £10m available to successful bids and forms part of funding announced in October last year.

This was announced at the Call to Action conference by the Welcome Trust, the UN Foundation, and the UK, Ghanaian and Thai governments to accelerate development.

Antimicrobial Resistance is creating new kinds of infections and superbugs that are resistant to current antibiotic medicines. New technologies (and new drugs) are under development to capture this growing market.

Image courtesy of Review on Antimicrobial Resistance.

Pharmaceutical companies can determine to a large extent where their products are available and how they are priced and promoted.

They have significant influence on manufacturing chains and have extensive expertise in researching, developing and commercialising new medicines.

The UK government has announced earlier this year that it will be committing over £30m of funding to the global fight against antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Also, the Department for Health and Social Care has revealed it will be featuring AMR on its new single department plan, forming an essential part of the government’s efforts on the matter in the UK.

Further to these, there will be an inquiry into the progress being made by the government into AMR, launched by the Health & Social Care Committee.

Chief medical officer, professor Dame Sally Davies, said: “Antimicrobial resistance may seem like a distant threat, but people are already dying needlessly in their thousands across the world, including in this country, because they have a drug-resistant infection and we do not have effective drugs to treat them. This problem is only getting worse – we urgently need to find solutions.”

“More research is critical, which is why the UK government is calling on some of the country’s brightest minds to come up with new ways to prevent, control and combat these infections in the future.

“I know there are exciting projects needing support in this area – this competition presents a fantastic opportunity for the UK to lead this work.”

In 2016, a review commissioned by the previous government and written by Lord Jim O’Neill highlighted the need for more R&D to reduce the threat of AMR.

As a result, the government committed to an additional investment of up to £55m over five years from 2016/17 towards promoting excellence in AMR R&D in the UK.