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In this regular feature on Breakthroughs, we highlight some of the most interesting reads in global health research from the past week.

October 23, 2023 by Hannah Sachs-Wetstone

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Johnson & Johnson on Friday presented new data showing that its pill for dengue fever appeared to protect against a form of the virus in a small human challenge trial done with the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, providing hope for the first-ever specific treatment for dengue, which is a growing threat around the world due to climate change. The pill, which is the first-ever drug to show antiviral activity against dengue, will also be tested as a treatment method. If the drug is successful in larger-scale trials, ensuring access to the new drug in low- and middle-income countries —especially as the threat of dengue rises in high-income countries alike—will be essential to effectively tackle the disease around the world.

The Sabin Vaccine Institute has launched a phase 2 clinical trial for its vaccine candidate against Marburg virus, a lethal filovirus for which there are currently no vaccines or antiviral treatments approved. The trial will take place in Kampala, Uganda, which has experienced various Marburg outbreaks in the past few decades. The single-dose candidate was previously found to be safe and elicit rapid and robust immune responses in phase 1 clinical and non-clinical studies. The ChAd3 platform, which forms the basis of the Marburg vaccine candidate, also undergirds Sabin's Sudan ebolavirus vaccine candidate, which recently received US funding for phase 2 clinical trials. The need for a vaccine against both deadly diseases has been brought to the fore by recent outbreaks.

Last week, Gilead Sciences Inc. announced PURPOSE 5, the first phase 2 clinical trial to evaluate an investigational, long-acting HIV prevention option in Europe. Lenacapavir for HIV prevention, compared with a currently used drug combination, could offer a fewer-dose, long-acting solution to individuals who could benefit from pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Lenacapavir, which can be administered as a twice-yearly injection, is currently approved in combination with other antiretrovirals for HIV treatment in people with multidrug-resistant HIV-1 infection. The study has an intentional focus on recruiting participants who are disproportionately affected by HIV and often underrepresented in clinical trials, given the importance of making available a variety of HIV prevention methods to meet the diverse needs of those who could benefit from PrEP.

About the author

Hannah Sachs-WetstoneGHTC

Hannah supports advocacy and communications activities and member coordination for GHTC. Her role includes developing and disseminating digital communications, tracking member and policy news, engaging coalition members, and organizing meetings and events.Prior to joining GHTC, more about this author