AMR preparedness: Policy insight & funding call for RNA Readiness and Response (R3)

Dear All,

A view from Cambodia: “If we lose this antibiotic, there is no oral treatment left for typhoid here.”

Good data drives good policy … it’s a lesson that I’ve really grown to appreciate. With this in mind, Wellcome Trust has just released a report entitled “How drug-resistant infections are undermining modern medicine – and why more research is needed now.” The report comes in several levels of detail depending on your needs:

An especially valuable feature of the summary report is its use of doctor and patient testimonies on how drug-resistant infections are impacting their health and ability to treat patients … thus the quote above. Please take a moment to review this powerful report: it is a great resource if you are working in the policy world!


And from policy to action, we also have today the fascinating recent announcement by Wellcome (yes, they’ve been busy!) of their R3 program. R3 = “RNA Readiness + Response” and is $60m program co-funded with CEPI (the vaccine-focused Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations). Part of the Wellcome Leap project, R3’s thesis is that:

  • “We need a global network of ‘living’ biofoundries.
  • “Distributed, multi-product, RNA-based manufacturing capabilities will provide increased access to diverse biologics and sustainable pandemic response.”

In brief, the idea is that mRNA vaccines have validated the idea that we can use our own cells to make needed biologic therapies. R3 seeks to change the dynamics and costs of biologics development and production, addressing the limitations of current manufacturing by establishing RNA as a versatile, deployable, standardized, multi-product platform technology, that:

  1. In non-emergency times provides developers and researchers with access to cGMP-formulated RNA for the development and production of a diversity of viable RNA-based products, and
  2. In emergency times shifts to needed products at speeds & quantities sufficient to mount a globally coordinated, regionally focused response to a pandemic.

Please check out the full program announcement and jump to item 2.B on page 5 where there is a specific call for applications with the potential to “Demonstrate tolerability and immunogenicity of an RNA-based vaccine against a non-viral target. We are particularly interested in bacterial pathogens characterized as priority antimicrobial-resistance targets.

Yow! What a NEAT idea! I know it is harder to find ways to use biologics against bacteria than against viruses, but could idea open some new avenues? Hmmm! This one is going to move quickly — here’s the timeline: 

  • Submission deadline for a 7-page application abstract: 13 August 2021
  • Abstract feedback sent 27 August 2021 with a recommendation to submit or not submit a full proposal.
  • Full 25-page proposals due 27 September 2021
  • Proposal decision sent 27 October 2021


And while we’re thinking about action on AMR, you might also want to look again at the 5 July 2021 newsletter about the paper from Charani et al. entitled “Optimising antimicrobial use in humans – review of current evidence and an interdisciplinary consensus on key priorities for research.” I’ve also tumbled to a very nice graphical version of the roadmap discussed in the paper. Perhaps one of these idea can inspire your application to R3!

Many thanks to our colleagues at Wellcome for their sustained efforts! There’s lots of opportunity here … please get involved! (And you might want to take a peak at the other Wellcome Leap programs: “The First 1000 Days” and “Delta Tissues” are the intriguing titles of two of the other programs.)

All best wishes, –jr

John H. Rex, MD | Chief Medical Officer, F2G Ltd. | Operating Partner, Advent Life Sciences. Follow me on Twitter: @JohnRex_NewAbx. See past newsletters and subscribe for the future: https://amr.solutions/blog/. All opinions are my own.

Current funding opportunities (most current list is here):

  • CARB-X recently announced that their existing resources will be reserved to fund their existing portfolio (more than 80 total awards, and counting, as they include contracting from prior rounds). New rounds from CARB-X will occur only after new funding is obtained in 2021.
  • It’s not a funder, but AiCuris’ AiCubator offers incubator support to very early stage projects. Read more about it here.
  • The Global AMR R&D Hub’s dynamic dashboard (link) summarizes the global clinical development pipeline, incentives for AMR R&D, and investors/investments in AMR R&D.
  • In addition to the lists provided by the Global AMR R&D Hub, you might also be interested in my most current lists of R&D incentives (link) and priority pathogens (link).


Upcoming meetings of interest to the AMR community (most current list is here):

  • 20 Jul 2021 (virtual, 16.30-18.00 BST): BSAC-sponsored webinar entitled “Diagnostic-driven strategies for antimicrobial resistance in the UK” that will highlight AMR priorities and diagnostic needs for the UK’s NHS. Go here to register.
  • 26 Jul-30 Jul 2021 (online): Small World Initiative Instructor Training Workshop – training for undergraduate professors in the wet lab techniques, parallel curricula, & pedagogical instruction to engage students in the hunt to find new antibiotic-producing soil microbes. Go here to register.
  • [NEW] 27 Jul 2021 (virtual, 5-6.30p CEST / 11a-12.30p EDT): GARDP-sponsored webinar entitled “Discovering and developing new treatments for fungal infections.” Go here to register.
  • 14-29 Aug 2021 (Marine Biology Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA): Residential course entitled “Molecular Mycology: Current Approaches to Fungal Pathogenesis.” This 2-week intensive training program has run annually for many years and gets outstanding reviews. Go here for details.
  • 24-26 Aug 2021 (virtual, timings not stated but presumably EU-centered): The 5th edition of the annual AMR conference sponsored by the BEAM Alliance, CARB-X, the Novo REPAIR Impact Fund, the IMI Accelerator, and the European Biotechnology Network. The in-person version of this meeting is consistently excellent; the video-based version will have to do for 2021. Go here for details. 
  • 8-11 Oct 2021 (Aberdeen, Scotland): 10th Trends in Medical Mycology. Go here for details.
  • 11-15 Oct 2021 (physical, somewhere in the UK): UK-focused Innovation Mission sponsored by Innovate UK in collaboration with AMR Insights and Oxford innovation. This free event seeks to connect AMR-focused start-ups, SMEs and Multinationals, Academia, Research Institutes, Regional Development Companies and other interested stakeholders in the UK, Europe and other parts of the world. Go here for more details.
  • [Deadline extended to 7 August] 16-24 Oct 2021 (Annecy, France): Interdisciplinary Course on Antibiotics and Resistance (ICARe). This is a soup-to-nuts residential course on antibiotics, antibiotic resistance, and antibiotic R&D. The course is very intense, very detailed, and gets rave reviews. Registration is here and is limited to 40 students. Bonus feature: For obvious reasons, the course didn’t happen in 2020! But as a celebration of the course’s 5th year, a webinar version was held on 29 Oct 2020: go here to stream it. 
  • 5-8 Nov 2021 (Albuquerque, New Mexico): Biannual meeting of the MSGERC (Mycoses Study Group Education and Research Consortium). Save-the-date announcement is here, details to follow.
  • 6-11 Mar 2022 (Il Ciocco, Tuscany): Gordon Research Conference entitled “New Antibacterial Discovery and Development”. Go here for details, go here for the linked 5-6 Mar Gordon Research Seminar that precedes it.
  • 25-28 Oct 2022 (Stellenbosch, South Africa): The University of Cape Town’s H3D Research Centre will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a symposium covering the Centre’s research on Malaria, TB, Neglected Tropical Diseases, and AMR. Go here to register.

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