AMR: Steps in the right direction


News that the UK is supporting two new initiatives to help further the development of antimicrobials alongside other solutions to tackle resistant infections is welcome news for a sector that has, in recent years, struggled to attract the funding and attention it deserves. 

The Pathways to Antimicrobial Clinical Efficacy (PACE) initiative and another project being led by The Infection Innovation Consortium: iiCON will serve as important stepping stones for companies looking towards support for the development of innovations tackling antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

The PACE initiatives takes the form of a partnership with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) to support innovators developing new antimicrobials. A funding call last year amounted to £10 million being available to support innovators in the space. Successful projects will gain access to UKHSA facilities where they can test clinical strains of bacteria and get support from experts in the field. 

For iiCON, the organisation has been appointed by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to lead a £1.5 million project that will offer funding pots of £50,000 to £150,000 to test disruptive approaches to tackling infections.

It’s initiatives like these which are vital to helping early-stage companies  get access to much-needed funding, but also to enable them to meet the right people who can help them bring their ideas to market. 

More so, with the UK long being heralded as somewhat of a leader in the AMR space, and with the government having a 20-year vision for tackline AMR, it’s important that we see support backing these ambitious goals. 

The UK’s national action plan for AMR aims to see the problem effectively contained and controlled by 2040. To reduce the global burden of AMR, the nation’s plan is to minimise resistant infections across communities and different settings, promote good stewardship of antimicrobials and support the development of new therapeutics, vaccines, diagnostics and other innovations that can tackle resistant infections.  

There’s a long way to go until we reach these goals. I’ve been covering the AMR issue ever since I started working in the publishing industry and it seems that the conversation has largely remained the same – that more work is needed to tackle a problem which could impact the very foundations of healthcare delivery. Of course, steps have been made and emerging technologies such as organoids and artificial intelligence (AI) are useful weapons for antimicrobial developers who want a host model to test infections against and to help speed up discovery times. 

In this issue, we speak to Professor Janet Hemingway, the Founding Director of iiCON about the issue of AMR and the steps that have been taken to combat it thus far. It’s a complex topic and a rather daunting one as well, but one thing is certainly clear, that we cannot stop pushing for progress in this area. 

For drug discovery, recent steps such as the development of two novel class antibiotics for carbapenem-resistant infections by Roche are promising and it shows that not all the major players have left the space. 

These are exciting and important times for AMR. We must capitalise on any momentum gained and support early developers of antimicrobials – the time is now.

DDW Volume 25 – Issue 2, Spring 2024

Reece ArmstrongAbout the author

Reece Armstrong is Editor of DDW. He has worked in life sciences and pharmaceutical B2B publishing for seven years and was previously Editor of European Pharmaceutical Manufacturer. He has a master’s degree in Journalism from Newcastle University.

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