This is a £4m call under the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). This call has two stages, an Expression of Interest (EOI) followed by an invitation to submit a full application. As the capabilities required to address antimicrobial target validation and drug discovery cover multiple disciplines, including basic bacteriology, computational biology, chemical biology etc., it is expected that successful collaborative proposals will draw on expertise across these disciplines.
The rapid rise in antimicrobial resistance across the globe poses a huge danger to human and animal health, threatening our ability to treat common infectious diseases and prevent infections following surgery and chemotherapy. Antibiotic resistant pathogens have been detected in every country but the problem is particularly pressing in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMIC), where infection rates are high, common diseases are often life-threatening and access to the already existing antibiotics can be limited. The current repertoire of antibiotics is increasingly ineffective and the threat is especially severe in the face of limited numbers of novel antibiotics. Urgent action is needed to accelerate new treatments for bacterial infection. However, antibacterial drug discovery is particularly complex due to various challenges, including keeping the drugs in the bacteria, the fast mutation rate of antibacterial targets leading to resistance and toxicity to the host. Promising antibacterial candidates are prone to failure at late stages of the drug discovery process because of low efficacy or safety, often owing to a lack of understanding and validation of the biological target. A multidisciplinary approach is needed to; enhance the understanding of antibacterial targets; develop new discovery platforms, reagents and tools; develop innovative new treatment paradigms; develop and investigate new disease challenge models; and revisit, repurpose or redesign the existing antibiotic toolkit.
To complement the wide range of research supported by the MRC in AMR, including through the Cross-Council AMR Initiative, and build on the UK’s excellent discovery bacteriology research, we now open the call for AMR Target Discovery and Validation (AMR TDV). This call will support between two and four multi-disciplinary networks/collaborations to develop innovative approaches to accelerate the antimicrobial pipeline, with a focus on LMICs.