- The federal government officially launched a prize competition last week for people to develop rapid, point-of-care diagnostic tests that can detect and distinguish antibiotic resistant bacteria, as well as tests that can distinguish between viral and bacterial infections in order to cut back on unnecessary usage of antibiotics.
- The Antimicrobial Resistance Diagnostic Challenge will award a total of $20 million to competitors for all phases of the competition.
- Although the contest was first announced in September 2014, the recent release of full contest deadlines and details leaves participants little time to prepare, with concepts for the first phase due Jan. 9, 2017.
The challenge comes in response to the growing threat of antibiotic resistant bacteria, which are now blamed for at least 2 million infections and 23,000 deaths per year in the U.S., according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Real-time detection could prove a game-changer in the fight against these bacteria by allowing clinicians to identify them within hours rather than days, and make it possible to tailor treatments, thereby minimizing the broad-spectrum antibiotic approach often used now. That could help hospitals in their quests toward better antibiotic stewardship and toward reductions in hospital-acquired infections.
Another recent effort toward improving common sense around antibiotics included the banning of antibacterial soaps by the FDA.
The new prize contest specifically asks innovators to target the 18 drug-resistant bacteria currently seen as most problematic, leading with Clostridium difficile and carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae.
The contest is co-sponsored by two entities within HHS, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), as part of the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria released in March 2015.
As many as 20 semi-finalists will be selected in the first phase of the competition and each be provided up to $50,000. Up to 10 finalists will make the cut in the second phase of the competition on Dec. 3, 2018 and each receive up to $100,000 to develop prototypes for evaluation. Up to three winners will be selected in the final phase of the competition and are slated to be announced July 31, 2020. The winners will share a prize amount of at least $18 million.