Recently Bugworks Research, a Bengaluru-based biotech startup, became India’s and Asia’s first to receive the international CARB-X (Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator) grant for its antibiotic research and development.
Antibiotic resistance has become global crisis that threatens management of infections, both in community and in hospital practice. The major reasons are indiscriminate use of antibiotics, including against viral infections, prolonged use in patients admitted to hospitals and their abuse in animal husbandry as growth promoters. In hospital critical care units, more than 50% organisms are now resistant even to these drugs.
CARB-X is a public-private international partnership set up in 2016 to focus on innovations to improve diagnosis and treatment of drug-resistant infections. It had grown out of US President Barack Obama’s 2015 Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria (CARB) initiative. It is funded by London-based biomedical research charity Wellcome Trust and US Health Department’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).
The purpose of CARB X is to provide a new, collaborative approach to speed R&D and delivery of new antibiotics, vaccines, diagnostics, and other innovative products to address urgent global problem of drug-resistant bacterial infections. It will provide grants up to $455 million over a five-year period to firms across globe for antibiotics R&D. All of its funding so far is focused on projects to address most resistant “Gram-negative” bacteria.
Bacteria are classified as Gram-positive and Gram-negative, based on a structural difference in their cell walls. Gram-negative bacteria are responsible for 20-25% of bacterial infections and are multi drug resistant i.e. have ability to defend themselves against drugs that try to kill them.