Collaborations Strengthen Global Fight against Antibacterial Resistance

NIAID Now | June 20, 2019

A graphic depicting the intersections between the ARLG and other groups.

Credit: ARLG

The World Health Organization recently declared antibacterial resistance to be one of the top ten threats to global health. Propelled by factors such as misuse of antibiotics and international trade and travel, bacterial infections are becoming harder to treat in every country of the world. In the United States alone, at least 2 million people get an antibiotic-resistant infection and an estimated 23,000 people die each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Government agencies, academic institutions, and nonprofit and industry groups around the world are sharing expertise and aligning clinical trials and resources to tackle the growing problem. The NIAID-funded Antibacterial Resistance Leadership Group (ARLG) is collaborating with groups in 19 countries and has initiated more than 40 clinical studies at 130 sites.

The ARLG recently established a clinical network to study multidrug-resistant organisms in China that are also relevant to the United States. China and the United States have both experienced a dramatic increase in drug resistance rates after years of antibiotic overuse in patients and agriculture. Through facilitation by the pharmaceutical company GSK, the ARLG extended an ongoing multi-center study in the United States to six hospitals in China. The study aims to characterize the risk factors of and outcomes associated with, carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) infections, as well as Acinetobacter and Pseudomonas infections. Patients in hospitals and other healthcare settings are at highest risk for these infections, which are difficult to treat and can be deadly. The study provides a global model for structuring future collaborative clinical trials testing new therapeutics and diagnostics for life-threatening antibiotic-resistant infections.

In addition, the ARLG is partnering with the COMBACTE-NET project, a network of more than 900 hospitals and 740 laboratories across Europe working to develop new medicines to combat antimicrobial resistance. The project is part of the COMBACTE (Combatting Antimicrobial Resistance in Europe) consortium. Funded by the Brussels-based public-private Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) and managed by University Medical Center (UMC) Utrecht in the Netherlands, the ARLG added U.S. sites to an ongoing COMBACTE-supported clinical trial in Europe evaluating the safety of MEDI3902, an investigational monoclonal antibody, and its ability to prevent pneumonia caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa in intensive care unit patients on mechanical ventilation. The trial is sponsored by AstraZeneca and is screening participants at approximately 75 active sites in Europe and the U.S.

In November 2018, the ARLG and UMC Utrecht signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to ensure coordination among U.S. and European clinical research efforts. The MOU aims to streamline clinical trials to reduce costs and to avoid duplicating efforts. Together, the China and IMI collaborations will enable the exchange of expertise and data sharing among the world’s leading scientists and unite efforts to confront the global problem of antibacterial resistance.

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