10 Million Pound Prize Offered to Address Antibiotic Resistance


Antibiotic resistant bacteria is a major threat and the Longitude prize is available to anyone with a solution.

Resistance to antibiotic medication is a growing public health concern. As infections and injuries have been treated with antibiotics over decades, the bacteria responsible for these infections have grown resistant to the treatments. The effects of this are being seen even now according to the World Health Organization. It’s first global look at antimicrobial resistance and antibiotic resistance from this past April indicates that death and illness as a result of antibiotic resistance is already of consequential significance.

In order to motivate the development of solutions, a number of groups, lead by independent charity NESTA, have come together to offer a £10 million award, roughly 17 million USD, to resolve the issue. This contest is called the Longitude Prize after a similar initiative 300 years ago.

In 1714 the British government created the Longitude Prize, offering up to £20,000 for a method to determine a ship’s longitude. As a result, John Harrison invented the chronometer in 1737 after thirty years of work and research. In 2012, UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced the return of the Longitude Prize for a yet undetermined research goal.

To determine what area the 2014 Longitude Prize would focus on, a public vote was held on six different categories. The six potential topics were food, paralysis, water, dementia, low-impact air travel, and antibiotic resistance. The winning theme was revealed last night on the BBC’s One Show. After the Longitude committee determines the specific goals of the campaign, everyone from amateur scientists to professional researchers will have six years to formulate and submit solutions. Submissions open this fall.

“Effective antibiotics have been one of the pillars allowing us to live longer, live healthier, and benefit from modern medicine,” stated Dr Keiji Fukuda, the World Health Organization’s Assistant Director-General for Health Security. “Unless we take significant actions to improve efforts to prevent infections and also change how we produce, prescribe and use antibiotics, the world will lose more and more of these global public health goods and the implications will be devastating.”

Antibiotic resistance affects the ability to combat bacteria responsible for blood infections, diarrhoea, pneumonia, urinary tract infections and gonorrhoea. According to the WHO fact sheet on antimicrobial resistance (a broader field which includes antibiotic resistance), “the death rate for patients with serious infections caused by common bacteria treated in hospitals can be about twice that of patients with infections caused by the same non-resistant bacteria.”

Sources: Longitude Prize website, BBC News

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