Innovate UK, LifeArc, and Medicines Discovery Catapult (MDC) have launched a new initiative to fund the development of new antimicrobials, PACE (Pathways to Antimicrobial Clinical Efficacy).

The public-private collaboration is a £30m ($36.3m) initiative and has started its maiden funding call for up to £10m ($12.1m) for potential investment in up to 12 projects.

PACE will support early-stage antimicrobial drug and diagnostic discovery projects.

Antimicrobial resistance has been identified as a major global threat by the World Health Organization (WHO). One of the reasons for the resistance is the overuse and misuse of antibiotics.

UK Special Envoy on Antimicrobial Resistance, Professor Dame Sally Davies said: “I have always been clear that antimicrobial resistance is one of the most severe global health threats that we face globally.”

“Drug-resistant bacterial infections already kill 1.27 million people a year, and experts predict that AMR could kill over ten million people a year as soon as 2050. I firmly believe that the development of new effective, affordable, and equitably accessible antibiotics and rapid diagnostics is not just a medical necessity but a global imperative.”

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The development of a new antibiotic is an arduous task. It can take between ten and 15 years and cost about $1bn to develop a new antimicrobial, as per the Welcome organisation.

The PACE program is not limited to UK-based companies, with up to £1m ($1.2m) in funding available per qualifying project. The initiative will be running an informational webinar on 31 October, with the deadline for sending expressions of interest being 24 November.

In August, the UK Government pledged £210m ($254.5m) to help track antibiotic-resistant bacteria across Asia and Africa with the aim of identifying dangerous superbugs before they arrive in the UK.