Eleven biotech firms and research teams from the US and UK are joining together to speed up the development of new antibiotics that will be powerful enough against the world’s deadliest superbugs. The new US-UK alliance known as Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator or CARB-X was awarded up to US$48 million in funding for the project.
The range of antimicrobial medicines able to kill the growing number of drug-resistant infections is dwindling and health experts warn that within a generation the death toll from such “superbug” infections could reach 10 billion.
Announcing its first funding, CARB-X said it would invest an initial US$24 million in 11 biotech companies pursuing various projects to develop antibiotics and diagnostic while the otherUS$24 million will be given in staged payments over three years as projects progress.
Added to private funds from the companies, the CARB-X funding could lead to an investment of more than US$75 million in projects that show success, it said in a statement. Britain’s Wellcome Trust global health charity is committing £125 million (US$155.5 million) over five years.
Public health specialists have been warning for years that the world is facing an urgent global health threat from antibiotic-resistant superbug bacteria and that the pipeline of novel therapies to treat them is precariously thin.
Drug-resistant infections kill 700,000 people a year worldwide, and the last new antibiotic class to be approved for market was discovered in 1984.
With CARB-X funds, three of the 11 projects are working on potential new classes of antibiotics, while four are exploring new ways of targeting and killing bacteria.