GENEVA AND LONDON – The Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (GARDP) is pleased to announce a £1m investment from the UK Government’s Department of Health and Social Care. This funding will contribute towards accelerating the development of a new treatment for gonorrhoea with a primary focus on enabling sustainable access in low- and middle-income countries.
Gonorrhoea is a major global public health priority with an estimated 78 million new cases occurring globally in 20121 – and a priority pathogen identified as of high importance by the World Health Organization (WHO). Almost all antibiotic classes used against gonorrhoea have lost their efficacy because of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
Globally, reports of multidrug-resistant gonorrhoea are increasing. In March 2018, Public Health England reported for the first time an individual who, while in abroad in South East Asia, was infected with a strain of gonorrhoea highly resistant to the current first line treatment recommended by WHO, and other commonly used antibiotics. Similarly, cases of gonorrhoea resistant to these drugs have been reported in Australia, France, Japan and Spain. With increased international travel, resistant strains spread quickly around the world. There is an urgent need for new treatment options, in particular to protect people in developing and emerging economies where the burden of infection is greatest.
Dr Manica Balasegaram, Director of GARDP, commented: “Multidrug-resistant strains of diseases, such as gonorrhoea, are a high public health priority. We welcome the UK government’s investment. There’s a real and urgent need for governments to support R&D efforts for new antibiotics targeting priority infectious diseases which are a threat to public health. Our project involves a new class of antibiotic and the only drug in clinical development specifically targeting gonorrhoea. Phase III clinical trials are being planned in Europe, South Africa, Thailand, and the US.”
UK Health Minister, Steve Brine MP said: “Drug-resistant gonorrhoea is a growing global threat and we must act quickly to ensure that treatments are available to respond effectively. I am therefore pleased that the UK will help to pump-prime this new public-private partnership and thereby help to ensure that any new drugs can be made available to the world’s most vulnerable people. Antimicrobial resistance does not recognise borders and it is essential that we continue to work with our international partners to progress these important global initiatives.”
GARDP is a not-for-profit research and development organization that addresses global public health needs by developing and delivering new or improved antibiotic treatments, while endeavouring to ensure their sustainable access. Initiated by the WHO and the Drugs for Neglected Disease initiative (DNDi), GARDP is an important element of WHO’s Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance that calls for new public-private partnerships to encourage research and development of new antimicrobial agents and diagnostics.
The UK Government’s funding is part of the Department of Health and Social Care’s Global AMR Innovation Fund (GAMRIF), a £50m Official Development Assistance (ODA) investment, which supports research primarily and directly for the benefit of people in low- and middle-income countries. GAMRIF was established to provide seed funding for innovative research and development, specifically in neglected and underinvested areas, in the field of AMR. The Fund takes a ‘One Health’ approach, seeking to invest in potential solutions to reduce the threat of AMR in humans, animals, fish and the environment. The Fund seeks to leverage additional global funding through interaction with international government bodies, public-private partnerships, product development partnerships, global funding mechanisms and global fora.
The funding for GARDP was pledged following the Berlin Declaration of the G20 Health Ministers that specifically called for ‘broadening the voluntary financial support’ for initiatives, including GARDP, which ‘reinvigorate research and development in science and industry for antimicrobials.’
1 Newman L., et al. (2015) Global Estimates of the Prevalence and Incidence of Four Curable Sexually Transmitted Infections in 2012 Based on Systematic Review and Global Reporting. PLoS ONE; 0:12:e0143304. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0143304 PMID: 26646541; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4672879.
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