Analysis

Grant Program Encourages Research Into Combining Antibiotics to Combat Resistance

NIH effort supports objectives of national action plan

Antibiotic resistance
Steve Debenport/iStockphoto

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a division of the National Institutes of Health, recently announced a new funding opportunity to support research into how resistance evolves in microbial communities, including how combinations of antibiotics could be used to improve treatment and slow the emergence of resistant infections.

Combinations of two or more drugs are commonly used to treat infectious diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis, but researchers have not actively explored these combination therapies for treatment of most antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.

Pew’s Scientific Roadmap for Antibiotic Discovery, published in 2016, identified this disparity and the need to conduct proof-of-concept studies on whether combinations of antibiotics could suppress resistance and how they could be leveraged in clinical practice to improve patient treatment outcomes. Such studies would require evaluating the effectiveness of antibiotic combinations, both in the laboratory and in animal models.

This funding announcement reflects NIAID’s continued commitment to advance select areas of research recognized as critical in the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, which was released in 2015. It follows recent NIAID announcements that focused on targeted funding for nontraditional approaches to fight resistance and tools for finding and designing new antibiotics. These research initiatives are helping with the development of an array of approaches to fight the growing threat of antibiotic resistance.

Kathy Talkington directs The Pew Charitable Trusts’ antibiotic resistance project.

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