Unmet Need

Infectious diseases – an underestimated danger

Not only pandemics and epidemics threaten humanity. Even infections that are usually harmless are increasingly becoming a threat because our most important tools against these diseases, antibiotics, are losing their effectiveness due to a gradual increase in resistant pathogens.

Initial signs of severe complications, for instance sepsis, are often non-specific and make early personalized therapy difficult. In the event of a life-threatening infection, every minute counts. Faster and better diagnostic procedures have great potential to enable physicians to quickly initiate targeted therapies.

Infectious diseases are among the leading causes of death worldwide and remain a threat even in industrialized nations.

G7 Academies’ Statement 2015

Infectious Diseases and Antimicrobial Resistance: Threats and Necessary Actions.

Emerging infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance are a serious threat to global health and to everyone. A comprehensive strategy is needed to address health risks from infectious diseases – one with a much more visible political and public profile and a cross-cutting approach involving health, agriculture, development, economic and other policies. The G7 science academies call for: (1) accelerating research and production of new antimicrobials, vaccines, and diagnostics; (2) prioritizing the research agenda in terms of filling knowledge gaps in major infectious diseases; (3) establishing global surveillance programs; (4) raising awareness among the society; and (5) a coordinated and rapid response to major epidemics. Only if these preoccupations are being fulfilled, the resources needed for an optimal prevention, diagnosis, and treatment for all humans can be released.

(…) In our increasingly interconnected world, pathogens are spreading rapidly and across borders, posing a growing threat to the health and prosperity of the world’s population.

The current situation is serious and no longer acceptable. New classes of antibiotics, vaccines and diagnostics for infectious diseases are urgently needed. However, industry alone will not solve this problem, as it perceives the return on investment to be low. This is why there is an urgent need to support research and development of new approaches to disease prevention and treatment.

Growing resistance to antibiotics and the resurgence of major infectious diseases such as tuberculosis threaten the achievements of modern medicine, the health of our societies, and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. An understanding of the scientific basis for this resurgence is available, and significant contributions to antimicrobial resistance have been made internationally in the past year. Nevertheless, there is an urgent need for international coordination to address outbreaks across geographic boundaries. (…)

The G7 science academies have identified critical actions needed to avert the immediate threat of infectious diseases. They emphasize the importance of international collaboration involving both the research community and industry.

The following actions are needed:

Accelerate the research, registration and production of new antimicrobial pathogens, vaccines and diagnostics.

  • Identify and develop new opportunities for support, including public-private partnerships, to increase the likelihood that new developments will demonstrate proof of principle.
  • Develop new antibiotics and vaccines for major diseases and assess ways to hold them in reserve until they are used. (…)
  • Develop attractive business models and other incentives for increased science efforts and revitalize economic interest.
  • Accelerate the development of diagnostics, vaccines, and therapies to better address the risk posed by highly infectious pathogens.

Addressing knowledge gaps and prioritizing the research agenda

  • Identify and close the gaps in basic research and ensure that results from applied research are translated into effective treatments (and do not remain in the so-called valley of death). (…)
  • Develop innovative strategies for prevention and rapid diagnosis of diseases. (…)