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UK and China to fund new collaborative projects to tackle antimicrobial resistance

Posted on 30/08/2017

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a major threat to both human and animal health worldwide.

The UK government’s 5 Year Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Strategy has acknowledged that a substantial and extended research effort is needed to address the emergence and spread of AMR and to speed up the development of new antimicrobials and technologies. It has been estimated that failure to tackle drug resistant infections will lead to at least 10 million extra deaths a year and cost the global economy up to USD $100 trillion by 2050.

International collaborations have an important role to play in enhancing our ability to combat the growing challenge of AMR.

The Department of Health – working in collaboration with Innovate UK – is to invest up to £10 million of Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding in bilateral R&D projects between the UK and China which address the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance. This is for innovation projects to support the development and, where appropriate, clinical evaluation, of new products or services. These products or services must be of value in addressing the threat from antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) will invest up to 60 million RMB to fund the Chinese partners.

Projects are expected to be equal partnerships between the UK and Chinese members of a consortium. This aim is to facilitate novel projects that neither country would be likely to conduct, within the same timeframe, without the expertise of the other.

To assist businesses to collaborate, an online partnering platform is now available.

Visit to China

Participants will be selected on a competitive basis through an Assessment Panel. Interested organisations are requested to:

a) Read the detailed the information about the competition

b) Fill in the application form and email it to both Dr Gabriela Juarez Martinez (gabriela.juarezmartinez@ktn-uk.org) and Lorna Miller (lorna.miller@ktn-uk.org) by BST 5:00pm on Tuesday 10th October 2017.

For more details on the visit please click here.

About the competition

This is a business led competition, but to participate requires assembling a consortium that must include at least:

  • 1 UK-based business of any size
  • 1 UK academic organisation or research organisation
  • 1 Chinese business of any size (established with corporate capacity within the mainland of People’s Republic of China)
  • 1 Chinese academic organisation or research organisation (established with corporate capacity within the mainland of People’s Republic of China)

Projects are expected to be equal partnerships between the UK and Chinese members of a consortium and projects should not last more than 3 years. The UK will provide up to £750,000 to the UK side. Funding of up to 5 million RMB will be made available to the Chinese side from MoST.

Current thinking is that the competition is likely to open in early 2018, however, this could be brought forward to December 2017, so interested parties are advised to sign up for KTN newsletters, follow the KTN twitter account or/and LinkedIn group and watch for announcements on the KTN website. You can also contact Dr Gabriela Juarez Martinez, Knowledge Transfer Manager – Pharma and Medtech.

The scope of the competition has been agreed with MoST.

Applicants should work closely with the clinical, and farming communities if appropriate, in order to understand what’s required and address one of the following.

1. Explore opportunities from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for the treatment and/or prevention of infectious diseases in humans and/or animals.

  • combine the use of antibiotics with TCM, herbal medicines and botanicals. A small-scale clinical trial must be included in the project proposal. It should explore the synergy between the use of existing antibiotics. It can include drug repurposing, and TCM agents and practice.
  • screen and evaluate the active components of TCM herbal remedies and botanicals against bacteria. Sensitising drug resistant bacteria to standard antibiotic regimes will be in scope.

In both points of this strand, the infection being addressed must constitute a significant threat to human health. A link to improved food security alone will not be sufficient to satisfy the scope requirement.

2. Advance the discovery of new agents, including small molecule drugs, vaccines, antibodies and other biological products. These agents must be to prevent and/or treat drug resistant bacterial infections in humans and livestock. This includes poultry, and all animals reared for human consumption, provided the second bullet point is fulfilled

  • for small molecules, new drug candidates must have a novel mechanism of action and structure
  • as in strand 1, for animals, the infection being addressed must constitute a significant threat to human health as a link to improved food security alone will not meet the competition scope.

3. Identify new agents that will increase the feed energy conversion in livestock without using antibiotics or hormones.

4. Using modelling and prospective and retrospective clinical studies, maximise the clinical utility of current antibiotics. Focus especially on those against drug resistant Gram-negative bacteria. Projects must aim to improve the prognosis of patients with extensively drug resistant infections.

5. Improve diagnostic capabilities for the diagnosis, treatment selection and surveillance of bacterial infections and antibacterial resistance.

For this strand, especially the first and second bullet points, it is important that you include, or at least work closely with, those who will be commissioning, delivering and using the tests to ensure that target product profiles are fit for purpose.

  • the development of rapid diagnostic capabilities (including point-of-care systems, pen-side testing in animals and self testing in humans). Can be for use in primary care, secondary care, the community or home, and on the animal side in the field or abattoir. Laboratory based tests will be in scope with justification that the time to result has clinical utility.
  • the development of improved diagnostic tools suitable for global surveillance. These can be high throughput laboratory based tests or other.
  • the identification of new diagnostic biomarkers for distinguishing between bacterial and viral infection and/or determining antibiotic sensitivity. Applicants should note that identifying and validating the candidate biomarkers is the main challenge in this strand. The term biomarker is used in the broadest sense, and includes any physical or biological measurement and their combination in complex algorithms.

Projects that do not meet the Official Development Assistance eligibility criteria will not be funded.

In addition, the following will be out of scope:

  • antimicrobial resistance (AMR) that does not address antibacterial resistance (ABR)
  • tuberculosis
  • ABR in companion animals and wildlife animal populations
  • aquaculture
  • ABR in animals where there is no clear link to human health (the link to food security alone will not be sufficient)
  • ABR in the environment, including water and soil
  • TCM outside the use of herbal medicines and botanicals (for example, acupuncture and cupping techniques are out of scope)
  • digital health
    (The inclusion of connectivity as part of a diagnostic system, including for surveillance, will be in scope but m-health and the development of apps will not be supported by the grant.)
  • surveillance
    (The development of improved tools for surveillance is in scope. It is the surveillance itself that is out of scope.)

Further information

For further information on this competition please contact Dr Gabriela Juarez Martinez, Knowledge Transfer Manager – Pharma and Medtech.