CARB-X Global Partnership

The global health threat of drug-resistant bacteria

Beginning with penicillin in 1942, antibiotics have transformed modern medicine and saved millions of lives. Antibiotic resistance—bacteria’s ability to overcome the effects of the drugs designed to kill or disarm them—is one of the world’s greatest public health threats. It is estimated that 1.27 million deaths occurred worldwide in 2019 due to drug-resistant bacterial infections. Resistance is spurred by overuse and misuse of antibiotics, and worsened by the lack of scientific innovation due to poor economic incentives. More than a decade of drug development is needed to produce one new antibiotic with little opportunity for commercial returns. A more sustainable economic model is urgently needed.

What CARB-X does

Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator (CARB-X) is a global non-profit partnership that supports the best science from around the world of new antibiotics, vaccines, rapid diagnostics and other products to prevent and treat high priority drug-resistant bacteria considered the world’s biggest health threats by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

CARB-X focuses on the early stages of research and development when projects are most vulnerable. For diagnostics, CARB-X supports the process from feasibility into product verification and validation. For therapeutics and preventatives, CARB-X supports lead discovery through preclinical development, and into a demonstration of safety in human clinical studies. CARB-X aims for projects to be well positioned to attract additional support for further clinical development and approval for use in patients.

Where the funding comes from

CARB-X is led by Boston University, and is funded by three governments and two foundations: the US Department of Health and Human Services Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR); Wellcome, a global charitable foundation supporting science to solve the urgent health challenges facing everyone; Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF); the UK Government’s Global Antimicrobial Resistance Innovation Fund (UK GAMRIF); and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest foundation dedicated to improving the quality of life for individuals around the world. CARB-X-supported product developers also receive in-kind support from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).

How CARB-X works

Led by executive director and principal investigator Kevin Outterson, BU Professor of Law and the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Law, the CARB-X team comprises scientists and biotechnology experts who review applications and manage relationships with international product developers focused on advancing antibacterial research. CARB-X provides non-dilutive funding to projects, in addition to investments made by the companies themselves. CARB-X also matches companies with experts through the CARB-X Global Accelerator Network who provide scientific, technical and business support.

How projects are selected

Projects are selected through a competitive application process led by the CARB-X Advisory Board and representatives from the funding agencies. Antibacterial research is scientifically challenging. On average, it costs more than $1 billion and takes 10-15 years to develop a new antibiotic for patients. There is always a high risk of failure in early stages of research. But if successful, these projects hold exciting potential in the fight against the deadliest bacteria. If one succeeds, we will have made tremendous progress.

Contact CARB-X

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For more information

Read the CARB-X Annual Report

CARB-X headquarters are located at Boston University School of Law.