US Anti-Microbial Resistance research has received $104 million in funding, as part of a drive by the US government to tackle the persistent problem.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) has announced a project aimed at developing a set of diagnostic and experimental platforms that that can reveal insights into how antibiotic resistance starts.

The project is also aimed at searching for new antibiotics whilst also rapidly seeking to identify the right antibiotic to prescribe for a particular infection as fast as possible.

The project is titled Defeating Antibiotic Resistance through Transformative Solutions (DARTS). According to the HHS, there are around 2.8 million antimicrobial-resistant infections occurring each year in the United States, causing more than 35,000 deaths.

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said: “Antibiotic resistance is an urgent and growing threat, and we do not currently have the tools we need to combat it. We must combine better stewardship of antibiotics with novel technologies in order to save lives – exactly what this award will do.”

The initiative is intended to complement activities funded by other federal research and development agencies to develop an ultra-high-speed screening system that analyses billions of bacteria individually.

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The goal is to create a platform to allow projects such as these to be implemented in hospitals across the US in hopes of increasing the US government’s ability to surveil drug-resistant bacteria.

 ARPA-H Program Manager Paul Sheehan said: “Quickly identifying the right antibiotic empowers healthcare providers to fight off superbugs and return patients to health. With DARTS, we aim to develop a compact diagnostic tool for the most problematic bacterial strains.”

The project was announced through the HHS’ Open Broad Agency Announcement, a funding body aimed at providing money to research that pushes technological advancement in the fields of public health. 

Meanwhile, in Canada, two Quebc-based hospitals have begun to pilot the use of equipment that uses light to kill bacteria and other pathogens, aimed at developing methods that don’t use anti-biotics.

At the same time, Portugal-based health system Luisadas Saude Health has partnered with California-based software company PrecisePK to deploy evidence-based tools in clinics to combat drug-resistant bacteria.