Last month the public voted for the issue ahead of five others to become the subject of the Longitude Prize 2014, developed by the innovation foundation Nesta.
Although the organisers hope to “encourage proposals from completely unexpected sources”, they acknowledge that “academic groups” – “from biomedical scientists through to material engineers, from synthetic and molecular biologists through to physicians and specialist clinicians” – are among the most likely candidates.
The goal is now to find the research project developing the best “diagnostic tools” to “help clinicians make better informed decisions, thereby conserving antibiotics… Slowing down the pace at which bacteria attain resistance will not only minimise the costs involved in healthcare and new drug research, but also benefit patient safety in general.”
In order to ensure that such tools can be used as widely as possible, the judging criteria put a premium on those that are quick, easy and cheap to administer.
The draft text, now available on the Nesta website to solicit feedback, has already been scrutinised by a distinguished team of reviewers largely consisting of academics from Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands and the US as well as the UK.
The “last phase of consultation” will end on 13 August, and the Longitude Prize will formally open for submissions in October. Research teams hoping to address the major problems caused by “the overuse and inappropriate use of antibiotics” can register their interest now.
The Longitude Prize marks the 300th anniversary year of the Longitude Act, when the UK government asked scientists to solve one of the greatest challenges of the time – how to pinpoint a ship’s location at sea by knowing its longitude.