Heading into 2021, its fifth year, CARB-X seeks new funding; will focus remaining funds on supporting projects already in the portfolio and those currently under negotiation
BOSTON – CARB-X has made solid progress in 2020, providing funding and support for innovative products in the race against antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and significantly building the size and scientific diversity of its global portfolio of antibiotics, vaccines, diagnostics and other life-saving products targeting drug-resistant bacteria.
“At year end, the CARB-X portfolio had more active projects than ever before. We are currently supporting the development of 49 innnovative products to prevent, diagnose and treat drug-resistant bacterial infections. Each one of these products, if successful, has the potential to transform the way we approach drug-resistant bacteria infections, and save lives,” said Kevin Outterson, Executive Director of CARB-X, in his Year End message. “When 2020 began, few could have predicted how our lives and the world would be upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. This virus has wreaked such destruction, yet we must move forward,” including in the fight against drug-resistant bacteria.
CARB-X achieved record heights in terms of new awards announced and building the scientific diversity of approaches in the portfolio.
Highlights at year end:
- 75 projects in 10 countries have received awards since CARB-X was launched in 2016, 23 of which were announced in calendar 2020
- $265+ million committed investment so far
- 49 active projects are progressing in the CARB-X portfolio, the largest active portfolio ever
- 18 new awards for new projects are currently under negotiation
- 7 projects have graduated from the CARB-X portfolio, and most are progressing in clinical development or have achieved regulatory approval; 2 graduates have secured advanced development funding contracts from BARDA
- Scientific diversity in the CARB-X portfolio has reached new peaks, with the addition of both traditional and non-traditional projects including new live-biotherapeutic, bacteriophage, CRISPR-Cas, antisense, immune-directing, anti-virulence, non-beta-lactamase potentiators, antibody-based and cellular nanosponge projects in both the treatment and prevention categories. The active portfolio now has 17 projects focused on new antibiotic classes, 7 new molecular targets, 16 non-traditional therapeutics, 8 vaccines and other preventatives, and 6 rapid diagnostics, with more expected in the coming months. The diagram illustrates innovation in the treatment portfolio: of the 35 active programs in our portfolio, 33 feature a novel class, novel mechanism, novel approach or combinations of these.
Among other highlights of 2020 was the 2020 Partnership Award, an honor bestowed by the Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) as part of its annual Innovating for Impact Awards, recognizing CARB-X’s contribution to global health innovation.
CARB-X operated uninterrupted during 2020, despite the pandemic, with staff working virtually from home providing support and making payments to product developers with projects in the portfolio.
“Achieving new heights, particularly in challenging times, has not been easy,” Outterson said. “CARB-X’s progress is a direct result of the vision and leadership of our funders, the dedication of the CARB-X and Boston University team working virtually, and the innovative spirit and relentless drive of the research teams we fund.”
More than ever, the need for new approaches to address drug-resistant bacteria cannot be ignored. The pandemic has demonstrated to the world the cost of being unprepared. The launch in July 2020 of the AMR Action Fund, with $1 billion provided by 20+ pharmaceutical firms with the aim of brining two to four novel antibiotics to market by 2030, was a welcome step during the year. New policy initiatives in the US, Germany, Sweden, and especially the UK are also positive steps toward making the antibiotic market more sustainable, he said.
“This policy innovation needs to continue. Unless governments address the market environment to ensure sustainable incentives for scientific innovation, new antibiotics and other life-saving products will not reach patients who need them,” he said.
CARB-X is in the fifth year of a five-year mandate to invest $480 million to support the early development of innovative products to prevent, diagnose and treat drug-resistant bacterial infections. CARB-X’s remaining funds will continue to support projects in the portfolio and new projects that are currently under negotiation. CARB-X is discussing next steps with potential funders, but new CARB-X funding rounds can only come after such funding is secured.
CARB-X: Jennifer Robinson
Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator (CARB-X) is a global non-profit partnership dedicated to accelerating early development antibacterial R&D to address the rising global threat of drug-resistant bacteria. CARB-X is led by Boston University and funded by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) in the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Wellcome Trust, a global charity based in the UK working to improve health globally, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the UK Department of Health and Social Care’s Global Antimicrobial Resistance Innovation Fund (GAMRIF), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and with in-kind support from National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). CARB-X is investing up to $480 million from 2016-2022 to support innovative antibiotics and other therapeutics, vaccines and other prevention approaches, and rapid diagnostics. CARB-X supports the world’s largest and most innovative pipeline of preclinical products against drug-resistant infections. CARB-X is headquartered at Boston University School of Law. carb-x.org/. Follow us on Twitter @CARB_X.