A measly 0.7% of research funding from public and charitable bodies in the UK has been sunk into work on antibiotics in the last five years, according to a study by researchers from Birmingham University published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.
The study found that, out of £13.85 billion worth of research funds available between 2008 and 2013, a mere £95 million went to research on antibiotics.
Additionally, £181.4 million in European Union funding was awarded to antibiotic research consortia including researchers based within the UK, including two EU Innovative Medicines Initiative awards, totalling £85.2 million.
The findings suggest that current levels of funding for antibiotic research in the UK are inadequate, and will need to be urgently increased if the growing crisis of antibiotic resistance is to be tackled effectively, the study authors warn.
They also suggest that "publicly available, subject-specific, funding databases will allow investment in priority areas to be tracked in future".
Antimicrobial resistance has fast become a looming global crisis and, as a front runner in biomedical research, the UK certainly has an important part to play in addressing this challenge.
"However, our study clearly shows that the proportion of public and charitable funding for research into new antibiotics, understanding resistance mechanisms and ways of tackling resistance are inadequate for the size of the task," noted Laura Piddock, of the University of Birmingham.