The Antimicrobial Resistance Diagnostic Challenge will award $20 million in grants to develop new innovative laboratory diagnostic tools that detect and distinguish antibiotic resistant bacteria.
The competition is calling for innovative ideas for rapid, point-of-care laboratory diagnostic tests to combat the development and spread of drug resistant bacteria, a rising public health threat.
The awards are sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) in support of the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria.
The NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and ASPR’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) each contributed $10 million to the challenge.
Antibiotic resistant bacteria cause at least 2 million infections and 23,000 deaths each year in theUnited States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Some public health officials believe these numbers may be higher as the number of antibiotic resistant bacteria continues to grow.
NIH stated, “The diagnostic tests being sought are those that identify and characterize antibiotic resistant bacteria and those that distinguish between viral and bacterial infections to reduce unnecessary uses of antibiotics, a major cause of drug resistance.”
“The growing incidence of serious infections from antibiotic resistant bacteria presents a critical risk to the public health of our nation,” said NIH Director Dr. Francis S. Collins. “My hope is that this competition will spur exceptional innovators to rise to the challenge and deliver effective tools to help manage this significant problem.”
“With real-time detection, healthcare providers would be able to identify infecting pathogens and resistance factors within hours, rather than the two to three days or longer that the standard microbiological culture processes require,” NIH said, noting, “Such knowledge would allow tailoring of treatments, minimizing the broad-spectrum antibiotic approach used by many clinicians today.”
“This effort even goes beyond public health,” said Dr. Nicole Lurie, assistant secretary for preparedness and response. “Combating antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a priority issue for economic and national security.”
NIH said, “Concepts must be submitted by Jan. 9, 2017, for the first phase of the competition. Up to 20 semi-finalists will be selected from the applicant pool, each receiving up to $50,000. In the second phase of the competition, on Dec. 3, 2018, up to 10 finalists will be selected to each receive up to $100,000. These funds can be used to develop prototypes for evaluation by two CLIA-certified independent laboratories, which will be considered when final winners are selected. In the final phase, winners are expected to be announced on July 31, 2020. The competition specifies that up to three winners can be selected, and winners will share an amount equal to or greater than $18 million.”
The CDC and Food and Drug Administration provided technical and regulatory expertise to the design of the challenge competition. Technical criteria, objectives and performance characteristics of laboratory diagnostics that would be considered for the prize were informed by stakeholder inputfrom a public workshop and a request for information. For more information about the challenge or how to apply, please visit the challenge website.
Read more about Homeland Security Today’s reporting on the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance here.
Photo: Scanning electron micrograph of neutrophil ingesting methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. Photo by NIAID.