UKHSA announced as first PACE collaboration to help tackle deadly antimicrobial resistance

Strategic partnership to support AMR innovators


PACE (Pathways to Antimicrobial Clinical Efficacy) has today announced a partnership with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) to support innovators developing new antimicrobials.

PACE was founded in 2023 by LifeArc, Medicines Discovery Catapult, and Innovate UK, with a £30 million programme of funding and support to be deployed over five years. PACE is focused on removing barriers and connecting the antimicrobial resistance (AMR) research and development (R&D) ecosystem to accelerate and strengthen the pre-clinical pipeline. Its first funding call was launched in October 2023 with up to £10 million available to support innovators developing new treatments for the most threatening microbes and resistance mechanisms.

Leveraging the UKHSA’s Open Innovation in AMR platform, the strategic collaboration will support the evaluation of new antimicrobial candidates from PACE-funded projects to help generate new scientific breakthroughs. Successful projects will have access to UKHSA facilities to test panels of clinical strains of bacteria with the support of world-renowned expertise. These panels will be expanded to provide additional bacterial strains which represent the problems faced by clinicians in the UK and internationally.

The UKHSA partnership will deliver a unique experience for PACE innovators to address the gap in supporting R&D in the early preclinical space, helping to strengthen the UK’s position as a global leader in life sciences in the effort to tackle AMR.

AMR is one of the top ten global health threats. By 2050, as many as ten million people could die each year as a result of AMR, more than the population of London. Bacteria and other microbes are evolving to become resistant to treatment, driven in large part by the overuse and misuse of antibiotics. There is an urgent need to grow a pipeline of new tests and treatments to combat the complexity of the global public health threat.

In 2019, the UK government published a five-year national action plan which supports the UK 20-year vision for antimicrobial resistance – aligning to the combined strategic priorities of PACE and UKHSA with commitments to supporting the scientific research community to develop new therapeutic approaches. Through its partnership with the UKHSA, PACE will help create and advance a diverse pipeline of preclinical projects aiming to treat bacterial infections with high unmet needs.

Professor Mark Sutton, a Scientific Leader at UKHSA and a Professor for Antimicrobial Therapy, said:

 “Antimicrobial resistance is a very serious current and long-term threat to public health. This partnership will help us to address that challenge, as we work to generate new antimicrobial leads and solutions for clinical development. We’re excited to support some really encouraging new antimicrobial candidates and look forward to achieving breakthroughs together that will go on to benefit our national and global health security.”

Dr Clive Mason, PACE Programme Director, said:

“PACE is thrilled to be partnering with UKHSA to enable SMEs, innovators, and partners to play a critical role in this new era of antimicrobial discovery, and to further enhance and protect the skills and capabilities of the UK biotechnology sector. This collaboration will not only deliver on the UK government’s immediate requirements set out in its national action plan; the insights we gain will provide further opportunities for future projects as the world looks to new AMR discoveries, ultimately contributing to better patient outcomes on a global scale.”

Strategic partnership to support AMR innovators

Posted 20 / 02 / 24