UK goverment launches £10 million antimicrobial competition

The government has launched a £10 million research competition to encourage the development of novel approaches to combating antimicrobial resistance and improving infection prevention and control. The competition, which is being run by Innovate UK on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care, aims to support the implementation of the UK’s Five Year Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy. The £10 million will be divvied out in the form of research grants funded via a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), comprised of two simultaneous competition strands.

Strand 1 projects must explore the scientific and technical feasibility of innovative solutions through proof of concept studies, focusing on infection prevention and the development of new therapies and vaccines in relation to AMR.

Strand 2 projects should be technically more advanced and can include: proof of concept in a model system; progression of a technical evaluation to the point of readiness for clinical testing; and demonstration of effectiveness in humans, patients or the relevant environment, the government said.

The looming threat of AMR is now a high priority for global leaders, with some experts fearing that medicine could ‘return to the dark ages’ – with ten million lives lost every year and $100 trillion in lost productivity by 2050 – if the situation is not addressed. In 2016, a review by Lord Jim O’Neill highlighted the need for more research and development to reduce the global threat of antimicrobial resistance. In response, the government committed an additional investment of up to £55 million over five years from 2016/17 towards to support AMR research and development in the UK.

“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,” said chief medical officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies. “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.”