GSK to become a founding partner of Imperial’s Fleming Initiative to battle AMR



Global biopharma company GSK will become the first founding partner of the Fleming Initiative, an innovative and collaborative new approach led by Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and to tackle anti-microbial resistance (AMR) around the world.

A £45m pledge from GSK was announced by Professor the Lord Darzi of Denham, Executive Chair of the Fleming Initiative, and GSK CEO Emma Walmsley, at an event celebrating global efforts and initiatives to tackle AMR convened by the UK Department for Health and Social Care and the Royal Society.

The pledge will support the Fleming Initiative’s unique and transformative approach and will help bring together world-class expertise in science, technology, policy and behavioural science alongside clinical experience, through a global network of centres that will find, test, and scale solutions to AMR.

At the heart of the Fleming Initiative will be the Fleming Centre, set to open at St Mary’s Hospital in 2028 and helping to mark the centenary of the discovery of penicillin at the hospital by Sir Alexander Fleming. At the Centre, scientists will work alongside clinicians, patients, members of the public and policy makers to scope, test and scale solutions. The Fleming Centre will work closely with regional networks of centres in strategic locations around the world to catalyse worldwide action.

Professor the Lord Darzi of Denham, Chair of the Fleming Initiative, said: “Sir Alexander Fleming’s extraordinary discovery was brought to the world through partnership with industry. As we approach the centenary of his breakthrough, we are delighted that GSK will be a founding partner for the Fleming Initiative – bringing their invaluable expertise and experience to help ensure collective action and protect generations to come.”

Professor Hugh Brady, President of Imperial College London, said: “Antimicrobial resistance is one of the most serious challenges facing humanity. The Fleming Initiative will see Imperial build on its impressive track record of societal engagement, policy research and convergence science to tackle this issue head-on.

“Importantly, it is a global initiative involving partnership at unprecedented scale with leading pharmaceutical companies such as GSK, research funding agencies, philanthropists, health systems and governments.”

Drug-resistant infections

AMR occurs when microbes such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites adapt and become resistant to the drugs we use to kill them and treat infections. The result is drug-resistant infections that are increasingly difficult to treat, and common infections and minor injuries potentially becoming life-threatening.

In 2019 there were an estimated 1.2 million deaths directly attributable to drug-resistant bacterial infections. According to the World Health Organization, as many as 10 million people could die annually from AMR by 2050, resulting in global economic damage of up to $100 trillion by 2050 without effective action.

AMR has been caused in part by the widespread misuse and overuse of antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines, in humans and livestock, which has led to the global spread of drug-resistant microbes. To effectively tackle AMR, global awareness and behaviour change is needed alongside rapid scientific advances.

Fleming Initiative

The new Fleming Initiative will have a strong focus on diagnostics so that the right antimicrobial drugs are given to those who need them, and on education and public engagement to support behavioural change to reduce drug-resistant infections.

The Initiative is particularly focused on supporting countries most severely affected by AMR where poverty, climate change and health inequality exacerbate the issues caused by drug resistant infections.

Taking an enabling and scaling role, the first Fleming Centre will be based at St Mary’s Hospital in London, at the site of the discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming in 1928.

The Centre will work closely with a new regional networks of centres in strategic locations around the world to catalyse worldwide action. The appeal to launch the Fleming Centre was announced in 2023, with His Royal Highness Prince William, The Prince of Wales, as its Patron.

Professor Tim Orchard, Chief Executive of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust said: “Professor Tim Orchard, Chief Executive of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “Anti-microbial resistance remains one of the biggest challenges we face in the NHS and other healthcare systems around the world.

“The support of a global biopharma company with a proven history in treatment for infectious disease is a major boost to our goal to find new solutions interventions for tackling drug-resistant infections. The Fleming Centre, based at our St Mary’s Hospital, where Sir Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin nearly 100 years ago, will be at the heart of the Initiative and part of a rapidly growing ecosystem of research and innovation that will benefit both local and global communities.”

GSK has been involved in discovering, manufacturing and making antibiotics available to patients for over 70 years. GSK legacy companies played important roles in the research and manufacture of penicillin, and during the Second World War the company supplied around 80 per cent of the UK’s penicillin. They currently have more than 30 medicines and vaccines in development related to AMR.

The company’s founding pledge for the Fleming Initiative will support teams to harness new technology including AI to better interpret and use complex scientific data, identify new opportunities to develop novel treatments and interventions, improve understanding of how drug-resistant infections are transmitted and can be prevented, and how better surveillance approaches might improve detection and tracking of infections.

Emma Walmsley, GSK CEO said: “This is an important collaboration for GSK building on our long- standing commitment to tackling AMR and our focus on disease prevention. The Fleming Initiative will bring together global resources and expertise from across different sectors to better understand the factors contributing to this growing threat and most importantly, drive action. We are proud to be a founding partner, and hope others will join us to support this urgent priority”.

For more information, visit the Fleming Initiative website.

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    Professor The Lord Ara Darzi
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