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UK bodies team up to launch £30m fund to tackle anti-microbial resistance

on Friday, 17 November 2023.

Innovate UK, LifeArc and the Medicines Discovery Catapult have come together to create a £30m fund to seek to tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Establishing the Pathways to Antimicrobial Clinical Efficacy (PACE), they are hoping to incentivise the discovery of early-stage antimicrobial drugs and diagnostics. They hope that this will then move the projects that are selected closer to clinical trials. AMR, which has come about through the loss of effectiveness of antibiotics due to overuse or misuse, is seen as one of the top 10 global health threats. The amount of effective drugs is running out, with the AMR likely to lead to 10 million more deaths per year by 2050, according to the review on Anti-Microbial Resistance that was chaired by Lord Jim O'Neill in 2014.

George Freeman MP, the Science, Innovation and Technology Minister, warned: "The rise of antibiotic resistance – creating a new generation of pathogens that can resist antimicrobial drugs – is one of the biggest threats to modern medicine, and human health, today. It is a global health timebomb: an invisible pandemic with the potential to leave mankind exposed to a new generation of superbugs we cannot treat with antibiotics.

"A whole range of infections that are easily treatable today, claimed scores of lives before penicillin was isolated in the 1940s, and we risk falling back into that dark age unless we can stay one step ahead in the race against drug resistant microbes.

"That is why this £30m research funding for this work such as this is vital: bringing the brightest minds from industry, academia and the third sector together to tackle one of the great medical challenges of our age. Our life scientists did it in Covid. Now we need to do it again with AMR."

Professor Dame Sally Davies, the UK's special AMR envoy and formerly the UK Government's Chief Medical Officer, hailed the scheme: "I firmly believe that the development of new effective, affordable and equitably accessible antibiotics and rapid diagnostics is not just a medical necessity but a global imperative. I am delighted that through PACE, Medicines Discovery Catapult, Life Arc and Innovate UK will give our science community greater ability to break down the technical, financial and regulatory barriers that have prevented the breakthroughs that our modern medical systems rely on."

The fund is now open with £10m initially in place to be able to support 12 projects.

If you have any thoughts on this development, please contact Paul Gershlick in our Pharmaceuticals and Life Sciences team on 07795 570072, or complete the form below.

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