We want to transform the world's approach towards stemming the rise and spread of drug-resistant infections. Antibiotics are a vital part of modern medicine but their overuse and inappropriate use in humans and animals has caused one of the most urgent global health problems.
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We set priority areas where we want to see, lead and be accountable for change.
This priority area will not involve funding calls.
Through our schemes, we will continue to fund a breadth of science research.
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What we want to achieve
If we act now, we can minimise the threat of drug-resistant infections, saving millions of lives and safeguarding the medical progress of the past hundred years for future generations. If we don’t, then routine medical procedures and operations will become dangerous or cease to be effective.
Through this priority area we want to:
- help the world fulfil the commitments made in the UN resolution on drug-resistant infections by sustaining and coordinating global action
- speed up development and delivery of new or improved antibiotic treatments and diagnostics
- help shape national and global strategies for tackling drug-resistant infections by generating and supporting the use of robust evidence
- accelerate the clinical assessment of new or improved drugs through expanded clinical trials networks.
We already fund people with great ideas for tackling drug-resistant infections, so this priority area is not a funding call. It’s an opportunity for us to build on the work of the innovative people we support, and take action to make sure infectious diseases can be treated in the future.
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For the latest news and views on all aspects of antimicrobial resistance, follow us on Twitter @Wellcome_AMR
The areas we're focusing on
Effective global governance
In 2016, the 193 member states of the United Nations unanimously passed a resolution to tackle drug-resistant infections, calling for a coordinated international response.
To help sustain this global action:
- We’re co-hosting a Call to Action event in Ghana in November 2018. We’re looking for global pioneers to present their approaches towards stopping the rise and spread of superbugs. This follows our 2017 event, which brought together over 200 participants from around the world and generated more than 100 commitments to act on drug resistance.
- We have contributed over $1 million to the World Health Organization (WHO) to support the work of the Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance (IACG) – an ad hoc group of global organisations and experts tasked with delivering a report and recommendations to the UN Secretary General by summer 2019.
- We were a founding member of the Global Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Collaboration Hub – a body announced at G20 2017 to coordinate the discovery and development of urgently needed antimicrobial drugs. The hub will work with existing partnerships, such as CARB-X.
- We brought together experts at one of the first events to focus on the impact of antimicrobial resistance on the environment [PDF 317KB].
New treatments and diagnostics
There have been decades of under-investment in antibiotic discovery and development because of the cost and complexity of developing new antibiotics, combined with unfavourable market conditions. The result is that there aren’t enough new drugs in the antibiotics pipeline to replace those which are becoming ineffective.
To change this, Wellcome is helping to fund CARB-X, a public-private partnership which is dedicated to accelerating antibacterial research. The partnership aims to fill the current dearth of investment by providing up to $500 million over the next five years.
In addition, we:
- Support the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership, which is working to develop and deliver new or improved antibiotic treatments. The first trials are for new treatments for neonatal sepsis and gonorrhoea.
- Lead policy discussions about how governments and industry can work together to sustainably increase antibiotic discovery and development.
- Support WHO to define the characteristics of diagnostics that are most effective for use in low-income settings.
Evidence for decision-making
Drug-resistant infections don’t stop at borders. That’s why we want to help transform the way countries track, share and analyse information about the rise and spread of superbugs.
The Surveillance and Epidemiology of Drug-resistant Infections Consortium (SEDRIC) brings together international experts to share expertise and identify the gaps in drug-resistant infection surveillance and epidemiology. Applications to join the consortium are now open.
Other areas we're focusing on:
- we're looking at how existing data on antimicrobial resistance can be used more effectively by:
- working with partners to integrate the mapping of the burden of antimicrobial resistance into the Global Burden of Disease Index
- developing a new open data sharing platform [PDF 1.1MB] to maximise the use of pharmaceutical industry antibiotic surveillance data
- we want to influence positive behaviour change – we're establishing an expert group with WHO to explore how to influence prescriber behaviour in low- and middle-income countries
- we want to analyse the impact of antimicrobial resistance legislation and policies – eg how the ban on antimicrobials in animal production in California has affected antimicrobial resistance and human health.
Faster clinical trials
Clinical trials for new treatments for infectious diseases are long, expensive and inefficient. Up to 300 hospitals have to get involved to run a trial for each new treatment.
With partners, we’re looking at how to design and build clinical trial networks that have standardised processes.
We believe this approach could save $300 million and reduce the time needed to achieve regulatory approval for new products by at least two years.
What's at stake
- Without action now, the number of people dying each year from drug-resistant infections will rise from 700,000 to 10 million by 2050.
- Of every 100 hospitalised patients, seven in high-income and ten in low- and middle-income countries will develop at least one healthcare-associated infection.
- Since Alexander Fleming’s famous Penicillium discovery in 1928, nearly all antibiotics have been variations on existing drugs. There has been no new class to treat the most dangerous Gram-negative bacteria since 1962.
Reports and consultations
The evidence we submitted to the Health and Social Care Committee Antimicrobial resistance inquiry.
Recommendations from a pilot project to openly publish human antimicrobial resistance surveillance data generated and collected by the pharmaceutical industry. The project was led by the Open Data Institute and funded by Wellcome.
The key outcomes from the Call to Action on Antimicrobial Resistance event, organised by Wellcome in partnership with the UK, Ghanaian and Thai governments and the UN Foundation.
The event focused on the critical gaps in tackling the spread of drug-resistant infections and sought commitments to concerted and tangible actions.
A summary of what’s been achieved since leaders met at the UN General Assembly 2016 and made declarations to commit to work on drug-resistant infections.
See all of our reports on drug-resistant infections.
Highly drug-resistant bugs are no longer a future problem. After decades of complacency, urgency is needed, says Wellcome’s Jeremy Knox in The Guardian.
We join international experts to call for a review of the global language used to discuss the problem of pathogens resistant to available drugs.
See more of our articles on drug-resistant infections.
- Tim Jinks, Head of Drug-resistant Infections Programme
- Sharon Peacock, Clinical Microbiologist, Expert in Residence
- John Rex, Infectious Disease Physician, Expert in Residence
- Jeremy Knox, Policy and Advocacy Lead
- Rebecca Sugden, Senior Policy Officer
- Sian Williams, Policy Officer
- Oliver Williams, Policy Officer
- Ghada Zoubiane, Science Lead
- Francesca Chiara, Science Officer
- Janet Midega, Science Officer
- Joanna Wiecek, Science Officer
- Charlotte Chapman, Programme Manager
- Janvi Patel, PA/Team Co-ordinator
- Veronika Jacobi, Team Administrator
We're working closely with other experts and partner organisations, including research and policy experts, clinical scientists, product developers, non-governmental organisations and other funders.
Our strategic advisory board provides guidance on this priority area.
If you have any questions or comments, contact the team: email@example.com.
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