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A global effort to fight resistant pathogens

Launch of an international research initiative to combat antimicrobial resistance / Minister Karliczek: We need to use global resources to develop antibiotics.

The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research is joining forces with international partners in a new initiative to promote research into antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The aim is to fight pathogens that have become resistant to existing antibiotics. The starting signal for the Global Antimicrobial Resistance Research and Development Hub, or Global AMR R&D Hub for short, was given on 22 May 2018, coinciding with the meeting of the World Health Assembly in Geneva.

In the words of Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek: “We urgently need new drugs, particularly antibiotics, in the fight against infectious diseases in order to protect the health and lives of people around the world. Resources need to be used more effectively in order to develop more new treatments, diagnostics and prevention measures for resistant pathogens. We will therefore strengthen and improve the coordination of our research on antimicrobial resistance at the national and international level.”

The German Federal Government has led the establishment of the Global AMR R&D Hub: Under the German Presidency, the G20 Heads of State and Government resolved in the summer of 2017 to intensify global cooperation in the fight against AMR. The Federal Research Ministry subsequently proposed plans for the Global AMR R&D Hub and supported its establishment. Initially, the secretariat of the Global AMR R&D Hub will be based in Berlin, at the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF).

Members of the Global AMR R&D Hub

Members of the Global AMR R&D Hub

Tony Photography, www.tonyphotography.net

The Global AMR R&D Hub currently counts 18 members, including countries such as Russia, China, the United States and France and organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust and the European Commission. Representatives of the members will meet on a regular basis to identify important research and development tasks and coordinate the employment of resources. The aim is to provide more effective funding for research and development of new treatments and diagnostics for resistant pathogens. A further aspect is how to enable as many people as possible to benefit from these new developments. Members are meeting with representatives of governments and international organizations in Geneva for today’s launch of the Global AMR R&D Hub. The aim is to recruit new members and use synergies by involving other important players.

The inappropriate use of antibiotics has resulted in more and more bacterial strains developing resistance over the last few decades – with fatal consequences: According to World Health Organization estimates, around 25,000 people die each year from AMR infections in Europe alone.

The research and development of new antibiotics which are also effective against resistant pathogens is complex and offers the pharmaceuticals industry little economic incentive. As a result, no innovative new antibiotic has been brought onto the market in the last thirty years or so. There is currently little sign of innovative breakthroughs in the pipeline. Public research funding is therefore of particular importance in the fight against antimicrobial resistance. Furthermore, targeted measures need to be taken to increase the commitment of the pharmaceuticals industry. In the words of Minister Karliczek: “We must ensure that urgently needed research takes place, particularly in a field where there is little promise of high profits. The BMBF will therefore provide up to 500 million euros over the next ten years to fund research to combat antimicrobial resistance.”