Manica Balasegaram: 2018 a year in review

20 Dec 2018

Dear Friends,

2018 has been a landmark year for GARDP. We have made significant progress to address important global health priorities such as drug-resistant infections in children, newborns with sepsis, and sexually-transmitted infections. None of this would have been possible without your support.

Partnerships are at the heart of our approach to develop new treatments. We’ve formed partnerships that span the drug development lifecycle – the most recent of which we announced yesterday with Takeda and Eisai to screen their chemical compounds for antibacterial activity. We’re already leveraging knowledge and sharing expertise from our strategic partnership with Sandoz, the Novartis generics division. With an increase in the rise of untreatable gonorrhoea reported around the world, our partnership with Entasis, to conduct the pivotal phase III clinical trial in Africa, Asia, EU, and USA next year is timely. This trial follows the promising phase II results for zoliflodacin published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.

Many of you know that antibacterial resistance poses a threat to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and particularly the target to reduce mortality in children under-fives. Recognizing the role serious bacterial infections play in the deaths of children from drug-resistant infections, we are generating data to update treatment guidelines for this vulnerable population, as well as develop treatments. To this end, it was wonderful to welcome, along with our partners St George’s and the PENTA Foundation, over 80 researchers from 11 countries to New Delhi to kick-off our observational study for newborns with sepsis in July. We’ve also commissioned a global review on the sales of oral antibiotics for children, which found that consumption varies widely with little correlation between countries’ wealth and the types of antibiotics.

However, developing treatments in isolation of stewardship, access, and surveillance jeopardizes the significant investment required for R&D. This is why, in collaboration with PLOS, we launched the AMR channel during the World Health Assembly in May – to encourage the AMR research community to adopt an integrated, multidisciplinary, and collaborative approach to research, and in doing so address the complexity of antimicrobial resistance.

Our endeavours to champion a new generation of antimicrobial researchers have gone from strength to strength this year. By connecting the R&D community via REVIVE, we’ve reached some 1000 researchers from around the world with our first four webinars. In the second of REVIVE’s blog published today, our guest author looks at recently approved antibiotics by the FDA and asks if they are making a difference to the challenge posed by antimicrobial resistance.

It goes without saying that none of this would have been possible without the support and engagement of our donors, partners, and our team. I’m delighted that all the commitments made at GARDP’s first pledging event have been realized. For this I am grateful to all our donors and I look forward to growing our collaboration and engagement in the years to come.

Finally, I am grateful for our unique World Health Organization (WHO) and Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) parentage which bring additional expertise and capacity to our initiative. As our incubation period, hosted by DNDi, comes to an end, we acknowledge the R&D expertise and infrastructure of DNDithat we’ve been able to capitalize on over the last two and a half years.

Overcoming antimicrobial resistance is key to achieving universal health coverage and meeting the sustainable development goals. Action is required across all sectors and society if we are to succeed. We look forward to partnering with you on this endeavour in 2019.

All the best,

Dr Manica Balasegaram
Executive Director, GARDP