Identifying superbugs: HHS offers $20 million for faster tests

Antibiotic resistance is reaching dangerously high levels in all parts of the world, making infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis and blood poisoning more difficult —and sometimes impossible—to treat. To combat this global epidemic and help health care teams more quickly diagnose patients with infections, two agencies of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently announced a prize competition for new rapid, point-of-care laboratory diag nostic tests for drug-resistant bacteria. TheAntimicrobial Resistance Diagnostic Challengewill award $20 million in prizes from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) over the next four years in support of the goals outlined in the White House ’sNational Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria. The structure of the awards is a deliberate departure for the agencies.“This is a different way of funding research,” NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, saidin a video on the research agency ’s website. “Traditionally, NIH waits for grant applications or we send out a note saying we’re interested in research in a particular field, but this is more like a prize—a big prize. And we hope that the size of that award will attract attention from people who might have worked on somethi ng else and now will work on this.” Two key clinical challenges informed the decision to create the competition. One is simply th...
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