Health agencies crowdsourcing solution to drug-resistant bacteria

(CNN/WRIC) — A group of government health agencies is asking for help finding a solution to drug-resistant bacteria, a growing threat to public health. According to the CDC, bacteria that can’t be killed by antibiotics cause at least two million infections every year, and some 23,000 deaths.

“Antibiotics aren’t working anymore for lots of these bugs,” said Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health. “This is a growing problem and it desperately needs better tools in order to be able to tackle it.”

How, the Department of Health and Human Services, The National Institutes of Health and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority are launching the Anti-Microbial Resistance Diagnostic Challenge. Officials are looking for laboratory diagnostic tests that can both identify and describe drug-resistance bacteria. They’re also looking for tests that can distinguish between viral and bacterial infections. $20 million in prizes will be awarded.

“We hope that the size of that award will attract attention from people who might have worked on something else and now will work on this,” said Dr. Collins. “This is a huge public health problem. We need all hands on deck.”

For more information on the challenge and how to participate, click here. The deadline for submission is January 9, 2017.

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