Germany joins CARB-X, commits €40M to fighting bacteria


The German government has committed €40 million ($45 million) to the development of products that tackle the rise of drug-resistant bacteria. German officials put up the money as part of their decision to join U.S. and U.K. authorities in the CARB-X partnership.

CARB-X, a global partnership against drug-resistant bacteria, is set to receive €39 million of the German money, bringing the total amount committed to the group up to €480 million. The commitment from Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) will support four years of antibiotic, vaccine and diagnostic early development.

The commitment is sizable in the context of what CARB-X has received from European governments in the past. Last year, the U.K. government committed around €23 million to fund three years of work at CARB-X. Germany is providing around €2 million a year more than the U.K., although the shifting Euro-Sterling exchange rate may account for some of the difference. 

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BMBF is providing a further €1 million to support a consortium of three German institutes that are joining the CARB-X Global Accelerator Network. The consortium is part of a wave of European groups that have shifted the center of gravity of the accelerator network in recent months.

Going into 2019, the network had four members, three of which were based in the U.S. Since then, four more European institutions have joined the accelerator, bringing the number of members based in the continent up to five. The other new members are based in the U.S. and India. 

CARB-X has rounded up the research institutes and funding to mount a concerted, multifront attack on drug-resistant bacteria. This year alone, CARB-X has awarded money to four companies working on antibiotics to treat drug-resistant infections such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The $5.7 million awarded to Forge Therapeutics to treat lung infections is the biggest disclosed payment of 2019.

The hope is that making nondilutive funding available to companies working in the space will spur research and revitalize the antibacterial pipeline. Despite significant investments from some groups, the pipeline has dried up in recent decades, leaving health systems without the tools to tackle the evolving bacterial threat.