The U.K. Government is to work alongside the medical charity the Wellcome Trust, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Institut Pasteur International Network, and other global organisations to tackle drug-resistant infections. The new body is to be called the “Fleming Fund.”
The fund is named after Alexander Fleming. Fleming is credited with finding the world’s first antibiotic. This was the antibiotic substance penicillin from the fungus Penicillium notatum, back in 1928. Mass production of the medicine took a decade or so and the subsequent impact on health has been immeasurable.
Since the production of penicillin on a large scale in the 1940s, antibiotics, have become essential for the treatment of various microbial infections in people. However, during the past two decades, the rate at which bacteria are becoming resistant to current antibiotic treatments has substantially increased. At the same time, the rate of new antibiotics has slowed considerably.
In 2014 two new antibiotics were announced, which is something of a rare event. The drugs were Dalvance and Oritavancin. These only came about through considerable investment by the U.S. government.
The campaign begins with a £195 ($290) million fund, primarily provided by the British government. The aim is to work at the international level to sponsor research for new antibiotic drugs. Discussing the proposal, Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust, said in a statement: “In our interconnected world drug-resistant infection is a threat to us all, and increasingly driving a global health crisis.”
Farrar empathized the importance of continuing research: “Without effective drugs to kill bacteria, viruses and parasites, much of modern medicine is rendered impossible – from cancer treatment to hip replacements.