Innovate UK, LifeArc, and Medicines Discovery Catapult (MDC) have joined forces to create PACE (Pathways to Antimicrobial Clinical Efficacy), a £30 million initiative supporting early-stage innovation against antimicrobial resistance (AMR) to save lives.
PACE has announced its first funding call with up to £10 million available to support innovators developing new antimicrobials. As the UK’s largest public-private initiative targeting early-stage antimicrobial drug and diagnostic discovery, PACE will select, invest in and support projects that address the world’s most threatening pathogens. It will deliver innovations for onward development and investment, moving them closer to clinical trials. By tackling this problem collectively, with a pandemic-style focus, the early translational science community will be supported to deliver the breakthroughs needed.
AMR is one of the top ten global health threats. By 2050, as many as ten million people could die each year as a result of AMR, more than the population of London. The economic impact is also vast. The World Bank predicts that from 2015 to 2050, the cost of AMR will be 3.5 billion USD per year on healthcare alone.
New approaches are needed to combat AMR. PACE will apply vital learning from other disease areas such as cancer and COVID-19, to the problem, where diagnosis and treatment have been transformed in recent years. It will provide wrap-around support for a diverse range of funded projects with the most transformational potential – from targeted treatments to rapid diagnostics and other innovative developments being driven by the community.
Professor Dame Sally Davies, UK Special Envoy on Antimicrobial Resistance, said: “I have always been clear that antimicrobial resistance is one the most severe global health threats that we face globally. Drug-resistant bacterial infections already kill 1.27 million people a year, and experts predict that AMR could kill over 10 million people a year as soon as 2050. I firmly believe that the development of new effective, affordable and equitably accessible antibiotics and rapid diagnostics is not just a medical necessity but a global imperative.
“I am delighted that through PACE, Medicines Discovery Catapult, Life Arc and Innovate UK will give our science community greater ability to break down the technical, financial and regulatory barriers that have prevented the breakthroughs that our modern medical systems rely on.”
Dr Ron Daniels, Founder and Joint CEO, UK Sepsis Trust, said: “Antimicrobial resistance is likely a more immediate existential threat to humankind than climate change – rather than a perceived threat for the future, AMR is harming patients in NHS hospitals today. Without effective antimicrobials, treatment of sepsis will be futile, meaning that 49 million people around the world each year will die of complications of untreatable infection. The UK Sepsis Trust is committed to preventing avoidable harm from sepsis: that’s why we are working with and fully support the PACE programme.”
Indro Mukerjee, CEO of Innovate UK, said: “Through PACE, we’re working to address the serious health challenge of AMR. The collaboration between Innovate UK, LifeArc and Medicines Discovery Catapult represents our united response – a call to bring together researchers, SMEs, and experts all within our world-class capabilities at the Medicines Discovery Catapult.
“By bringing together the innovation ecosystem, offering funding opportunities, and promoting collaboration, PACE aims to reshape the trajectory of AMR. Our goal is to help protect public health and strengthen the UK life sciences sector.”