UK government kick-starts AMR research with £10m grant

Brexit Health Alliance warns on infection threat

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

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 £10 million 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 Wellcome Trust, the UN Foundation, and the UK, Ghanaian and Thai governments to accelerate development.

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 £55 million over five years from 2016/17 towards promoting excellence in AMR R&D in the UK.

The new competition begins on Monday, and ends on Wednesday, 22 August.