$20 million contest for better tests to find drug-resistant bacteria

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WPVI) -- The contest is on!

The government wants fresh ideas on how to stop drug-resistant bacteria.

And there are huge financial incentives.

Millions of dollars in prizes, in fact.

Since the 1940s, antibiotics have saved countless lives, however, those wonder-drugs are losing their effectiveness.

Government health experts say this is an "all hands on deck" issue, because drug-resistant bacteria cause at least 2 million infections every year.

And about 23-thousand people die.

"Antibiotics aren't working anymore for lots of these bugs," says Dr, Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes for Health.

"This is a growing problem and it desperately needs better tools in order to be able to tackle it."

So a group of government health agencies are asking for help finding solutions.

They are looking for laboratory tests that can identify drug-resistant bacteria, as well as tests that can distinguish between a virus and bacteria.

$20 million will be awarded in prizes.

"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. This is a huge public health problem," says Dr. Collins.

Want to submit a new test? There's more information at www.dot.cccinnovation-center.com.

The deadline is January 9th, 20-17.
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