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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.

December 18, 2023 by Hannah Sachs-Wetstone

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A new study from scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases that builds on decades of research offers promising findings about the immune response to HIV, which could help guide further research into HIV vaccine design and development. The researchers compared the immune system activity of past HIV vaccine study participants to people with HIV who naturally keep the virus from replicating even without antiretroviral therapy, finding that future HIV vaccine candidates may be more successful if they include additional doses or persist longer in the body to continue to stimulate the immune system to deliver the proteins necessary to destroy HIV-infected cells. The research is especially encouraging given the recently halted HIV vaccine trial and hopefully can lead to further advances in the field.

Last week, the Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) Fund announced that it will invest approximately $8.8 million to accelerate the further development and commercialization of a triple artemisinin combination drug against malaria. Specifically, the investment will support a global, multicenter phase 3 clinical trial project in Africa and Southeast Asia led by Fosum Pharma. The project also includes the development of a co-formulated child-friendly version of the drug, given the high proportion of malaria deaths that occur in children under five. The new drug could also play a role in addressing the rising threat of malaria drug resistance.

Recent findings suggest that an inhaled vaccine for COVID-19 delivered directly to the respiratory tract where the virus infects the body could improve protection against infection. The researchers tested COVID-19 vaccine boosters delivered via nasal spray, inhaler, and a shot in the arm in adult rhesus macaques, finding that the inhaled vaccine provided greater mucosal immunity than the other two methods. The promising findings will hopefully further research toward more effective vaccines against COVID-19 and other respiratory viral infections.

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