The NIH launches a $20million prize to tackle antibiotic resistance

08 Sep 2016

We are delighted to see the launch of the $20million Antimicrobial Resistance Diagnostic Challenge prize by NIH, BARDA and ASPR, announced today by Dawn O’Connell, Deputy Chief of Staff at The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). It’s great to see more prizes focused on the urgent and important area of growing resistance to antibiotics. Each year in the US, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. This prize encourages U.S. solvers to tackle some of the worst infections and will hopefully provide solutions to wider posed by AMR.  

The Antimicrobial Resistance Diagnostic Challenge is now open and accepting registrations.

We are also pleased to see that the Antimicrobial Resistance Diagnostic Challenge, like the Longitude Prize, will be focused on a novel, easy to use, rapid, accurate and cost effective point of care test. These kinds of test are very important to help speed up treatment decisions involving antibiotics and will help to reduce unnecessary use.

“I welcome the launch by NIH, BARDA and ASPR of this $20m prize to harness expertise and develop diagnostics to fight the growing resistance to antibiotics in the U.S. Each year in the US, more than 23,000 people die as a result of resistant infections, and this is an issue facing everyone around the world. We hope that innovation through major Prize initiatives to develop rapid, accurate, and cost effective tests will help to ensure we only use antibiotics when we need them and address this international threat to public health.”

Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England and member of the Longitude Committee. 

The two prizes complement each other, and we will help to spread the word about this new Prize so that American teams working on the Longitude Prize are also aware of the Antimicrobial Resistance Diagnostic Challenge.

How are the prizes similar?

  • Both tests are open to a range of targets and could use a range of samples. This is important because there are resistant bugs in many infections, and therefore many options for an effective test. Whilst both prizes leave the choice of target infection open to the innovators, the Antimicrobial Resistance Diagnostic Challenge is also keen to see tests that target the 18 identified bugs that pose the biggest health threats to the U.S.
  • Both prizes have a flexible approach to test evaluations. This flexibility will hopefully encourage a wider pool of entrants and means the onus is on teams to prove that their test meets the ultimate criteria of improving treatment decisions and reducing inappropriate use of antibiotics. Both of the prizes will only be paid if the judges are convinced.
  • Transparency is an important part of both prizes, and teams that take part will be openly listed on the prize websites. We know teams have found collaboration by seeking out and contacting other registered individuals or teams. 
  • Both prize conveners assume responsibility for clinical trials, which is an expensive part of diagnostic development. By doing this we hope to encourage more teams to take part and evaluate their novel ideas.

How are the prizes different?

  • Both prizes recognise the importance of a rapid test if we want to disrupt the current treatment pathways, and encourage health workers and patients to only use antibiotics when they need them. The Antimicrobial Resistance Diagnostic Challenge has set a maximum time of 90 minutes for its test, which is to be used in outpatient and inpatient settings, including pharmacies. The Longitude Prize has set the time to result as a maximum of 30 minutes, as we are looking for a test to work in all health settings, including when antibiotics can be bought over the counter.
  • There is a difference in eligibility for the two prizes. Team leaders for the Antimicrobial Resistance Diagnostic Challenge need to be U.S. residents, although other members of the team may not be. The Longitude Prize is open to teams led by individuals from all over the world, as long as they meet a very straight forward criterion around their links to the UK.
  • Prizes can be designed in a number of ways depending on the topic and key objectives. The Antimicrobial Resistance Diagnostic Challenge has a staged approach, meaning all teams must register by January 2017 and then numbers are reduced to 20 semi-finalists and then 10 finalists through assessment. The Longitude Prize is open to registrations throughout its term with regular deadlines to submit an application to win.
  • The Antimicrobial Resistance Diagnostic Challenge can be won by up to 3 winners, however the only one team or individual can win the Longitude Prize.

Visit the Antimicrobial Resistance Diagnostic Challenge website to find out more about their criteria and timelines.

With these two prizes focused on rapid diagnostics, along with the recently closed EU Horizon 2020 prize, we hope to see great innovations from across the world, and hopefully a number of novel, point of care diagnostics coming to market, to enable us to safeguard our current and future antibiotics, and save lives.

Twitter: @NIH