$20 Million Contest for Antibiotic Resistance Test Launches

$20 Million Contest for Antibiotic Resistance Test Launches

The federal government yesterday officially launched a $20 million contest to develop rapid, point-of-care diagnostic tests to spot and identify antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

A rapid response is in order. Would-be contestants face their first deadline just 4 months from now.

First announced by the Obama administration in 2014, the Antimicrobial Resistance Diagnostic Challenge seeks in vitro tests that can identify infectious pathogens and drug resistance within hours rather than days, which is the standard with current microbiological culture processes. “Such knowledge would allow tailoring of treatments, minimizing the broad-spectrum antibiotic approach used by many clinicians today,” said the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a cosponsor of the contest, in a news release.

The contest is targeting 18 drug-resistant bacteria considered the most threatening. Topping the list are Clostridium difficile, carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, and Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

A related goal of the contest is to develop tests that distinguish between viral and bacterial infections, which could reduce unnecessary use of antibiotics. Such unnecessary use is largely blamed for the rise of so-called superbugs, which cause at least 2 million infections and 23,000 deaths each year in the United States.

The deadline for contestants to submit concepts for new antibiotic-resistance tests is January 9. As many as 20 semifinalists will receive $50,000 apiece to develop prototypes and analytic data for their ideas, which are due on September 4, 2018. Ten finalists who make this cut will receive an additional $100,000 apiece to supply their prototypes to two independent laboratories by January 3, 2020, for evaluation. The judges will choose up to three winners, who will equally share a pot of at least $18 million to further develop and produce their prototypes.

Contest entries can come from one individual, a team, or entities such as businesses and nonprofit groups.

Of the $20 million in prize money, half comes from the NIH and half from the federal Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. This agency is part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response — the other sponsor of the contest — in the US Department of Health and Human Services.

More information about the contest, and how to enter it, is available online.

Source: Robert Lowes