New programme to fight antimicrobial resistance
By Marie-Martine Buckens | Wednesday 30 May 2012
The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) has just launched a new programme worth €223.7 million aimed at tackling antibiotic resistance and speeding up the delivery of new antibiotics to patients. This is no small challenge given that in Europe in 2007 alone, over 25,000 deaths were linked to antimicrobial resistance. This new programme – which is estimated to utilise over €600 million in funding over the next seven years – will help build a network between researchers and improve the effectiveness of clinical trials in a field which is currently extremely fragmented and somewhat neglected by research centres. Five European pharmaceutical companies and several universities are taking part in the programme. The work will focus in particular on clinical trials testing experimental antibiotics to fight particularly resistant bacteria – targeting for instance the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which causes infections that are particularly common in hospitals. In addition, new methods will be explored to improve antibiotic uptake by a specific group of so-called ‘Gram-negative’ resistant bacterial pathogens.
The IMI is a public-private partnership between the European pharmaceutical industries that are members of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) and the European Commission. The initiative is part of the Commission’s action plan against the rising threats from antimicrobial resistance, which was launched in November 2011. The Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, had then stated that these investments, which were a priority for the EU, would continue into the future framework programme for research and innovation, Horizon 2020. The IMI is one of the six joint technology initiatives (JTIs) that were launched under the EU’s current framework programme for research to tackle sectors seen as strategic. The other five initiatives are Artemis (embedded Intelligence and systems); Clean Sky; European Nanoelectronics Initiative Advisory Council (ENIAC); Fuel Cells and Hydrogen (FCH); and Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES).
The development of new antimicrobials is one of the seven priority areas of the action plan launched by the Commission in November 2011. The remaining six priorities are:
- Ensuring an appropriate use of antimicrobials
- Preventing microbial infections and their spreading
- Containing the risk of spreading of antimicrobial resistance in cooperation with international partners
- Improving follow-up and monitoring in human and veterinary medicines
- Research and innovation
- Communication, education and training