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CARB-X Announces Latest Funding for New Antibiotics to Fight Drug-Resistant Bacteria

CARB-X, the international partnership between governmental and charitable groups in the United States and the United Kingdom, has announced new funding for the development of new antibiotics to fight drug-resistant bacteria.

For decades, there has been a lack of new antibiotics in development to combat the growing public health threat of antibiotic resistance; but now, one initiative to invest in research on new antibiotics has announced its funding into a series of potentially life-saving products.

In 2017, a report from the Pew Charitable Trusts noted that there are not enough new antibiotics in development to counter the growing threat of drug-resistant bacteria. The World Health Organization (WHO) released their analysis of the problem in September of 2017 in a report, saying that with the lack of antibacterial agents under development, the world is running out of antibiotics. WHO has identified 12 priority pathogens, families of bacteria posing the biggest threat globally to public health; these include increasingly antibiotic-resistant strains of Acinetobacter, Pseudomonas and various Enterobacteriaceae (including Klebsiella, Escherichia coli, Serratia, and Proteus), responsible for deadly cases of pneumonia and bloodstream infections. The majority of new drugs being developed today are modified from existing classes of antibiotics, according to the WHO, and don’t offer long-term relief from drug resistance.

In recent news, however, the Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator (CARB-X) project has announced the funding of new antibiotic research, including the development of a new class of antibiotics to treat a broad spectrum of life-threatening Gram-negative and drug-resistant bacteria. CARB-X was founded in 2016 as a partnership between Wellcome Trust, the United States’ Department of Health and Human Services Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) — part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), and the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). The goal of the joint initiative is to boost early antibiotic research; it is the world’s largest public-private partnership focused on this goal.

On February 15, 2018, CARB-X announced that it is awarding $2.2 million in funding to Curza, a Salt Lake City-based small-molecule therapeutics company. The investment will go toward Curza’s Gram-negative antibiotic program and if the project achieves certain milestones, CARB-X may award the company an additional $1.8 million.

"The support announced today aims to speed development of a potential novel class of antibiotics to treat patients with life-threatening Gram-negative infections to enhance national security and global health security,” said BARDA director Rick Bright, PhD, in a recent press release. “At BARDA, we are committed to innovation and revitalizing the antibacterial pipeline through a combination of incentives. Today, we add another product to the Powered by CARB-X portfolio, furthering our commitment to accelerate medical countermeasure innovation through novel public-private partnerships."

In additional news from CARB-X, the organization announced the scope of its latest funding rounds for 2018. The scope of the first round seeks applications from companies and research teams working on the development of new classes of direct-acting small molecule and large molecule antibacterials that target certain Gram-negative bacteria. The second round will fund research on direct-acting therapeutics and covers a broader scope of therapeutics, vaccines, diagnostics, and devices that meet certain criteria. The goal, according to CARB-X, is to support projects through their early development phases to help attract additional private or public support for clinical development.

“The scope of each funding cycle has been carefully designed to meet the most urgent needs in the global pipeline to treat drug-resistant bacterial infections and respond to the rising threat of drug-resistant bacteria," said CARB-X executive director Kevin Outterson, in a recent press release.

CARB-X awarded $60 million to 24 projects in 2017, along with up to $75.25 million more in funding if those projects meet their milestones. Overall, CARB-X is set to invest up to $455 million from 2016 to 2021 and is also focused on addressing the responsible antibiotic use and equitable access to antibiotics in low-income countries.