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$50 million more for CARB-X will help biotech companies fight antibiotic resistance

Funds from the Gates Foundation and U.K. government will help address antimicrobial resistance in low- and middle-income countries

by Ryan Cross
May 25, 2018 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 96, Issue 22

An illustration of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae.
Credit: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
An illustration of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, a bacterium considered a top threat by WHO and CDC.

Since its launch less than two years ago, the public-private partnership CARB-X has provided $85 million to three dozen biotech companies working on new therapies and diagnostics to fight antibiotic resistance.

Now CARB-X, which stands for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator, has two new funders: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will give up to $25 million, and the U.K. government’s Global Antimicrobial Resistance Innovation Fund is giving up to $27 million (£20 million). With its total funding now over $500 million, CARB-X is quickly becoming a major backer for start-ups developing diagnostic, preventative, and therapeutic products for antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Kevin Outterson, executive director of CARB-X, says the new funds will be used mostly for “vaccines, prevention, monoclonal antibodies, microbiome, and other nontraditional alternatives to antibiotics, with a particular focus on health needs in low- and middle-income countries.”

The Gates Foundation, well known for funding work to curb malaria, tuberculosis, and diarrheal diseases, is particularly interested in prevention.

Although small-molecule drug development isn’t mentioned as a priority for CARB-X’s newest funding, the organization already backs several small-molecule projects spanning nine new classes of antibiotics. Many of those target Gram-negative bacteria, whose anatomical features make them particularly tough to kill.

CARB-X currently funds 33 projects, which together could receive more than $100 million in additional funds for meeting project milestones.


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