Novo Nordisk Foundation puts $25m into AMR programme

antimicrobial resistance
Marcelo Leal

The Novo Nordisk Foundation has come up with more funding to help battle the scourge of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), putting $25 million into a non-profit accelerator programme hunting for new ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat infectious diseases.

The cash injection for the Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator (CARB-X) will complement funding provided by four G7 governments and three of the world’s biggest foundations that is aimed at taking projects from basic research into clinical development.

It is the latest in a series of funding rounds by Novo Nordisk Foundation – a philanthropic affiliate of Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk – and follows a $260 million initiative to find new respiratory infection vaccines and approximately $140 million for cell and gene therapy (CGT) manufacturing.

According to the Foundation, AMR “threatens to unravel societies and the global economic system by increasing the risks of performing routine medical procedures, such as caesarean sections, hip replacements, and chemotherapy, impairing our food chain, and diminishing productivity.”

It cites an assessment of the burden of AMR published in The Lancet – still considered to be the most comprehensive carried out to date – which found that drug-resistant bacterial infections alone caused an estimated 3,500 deaths every day in 2019, a number greater than both HIV/AIDS and malaria.

According to the World Bank, in a high AMR-impact scenario, the world could lose 3.8% of its annual GDP by 2050, with an annual shortfall of $3.4 trillion by 2030.

CARB-X is a public-private partnership set up in 2016 that aims to accelerate the development of antibacterial medicines, spanning antibiotics, vaccines, rapid diagnostics, and other products. The organisation is based out of Boston University and is funded by various countries and partners, such as the Wellcome Institute, UK Aid, the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and others.

It already has a good track record, having funded 93 projects in 12 countries, including 19 that have advanced into or completed clinical trials and 12 that are still in clinical development, and helping two diagnostic products to reach the market.

Novo Nordisk Foundation is providing the funding over three years to help plug a funding gap in the early stages of development for products that tackle AMR. A report for the European Commission recently estimated that an additional global investment of $250 million to $400 million from public and philanthropic sources is needed every year for this purpose.

“This new funding is a testament to our shared commitment to supporting the pioneering efforts of antibacterial product developers, mainly university spin-offs and small biotech companies, in advancing much-needed innovation to prevent, diagnose, and treat the most dangerous drug-resistant bacterial infections,” commented CARB-X' executive director, Kevin Outterson.

News of the funding round comes shortly after reports emerged of an all-too-rare new antibiotic class – discovered by scientists at Roche and Harvard University – that has shown promise as a treatment for resistant forms of ‘superbug’ carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii (CRAB).

Photo by Marcelo Leal on Unsplash

9 January, 2024