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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 21, 2023 by Hannah Sachs-Wetstone

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A phase 3 trial testing a new malaria drug could offer hope for addressing the burden of malaria in babies, which despite being a leading cause of death across Africa, is often underdiagnosed, mistreated, and not studied in this population. There are no malaria treatments for babies weighing under 11 pounds (about three months old or younger), whose cases also often go undiagnosed because malaria presents differently and can easily be mistaken for common childhood illnesses in children this young or they have not even been tested due to resource shortages. Clinical trials, including those for the RTS,S and R21 malaria vaccines, often exclude children under five months because of the assumption that mothers confer immunity. The ongoing trial, which is supported by the PAMAfrica Consortium and co-funded by the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership and Medicines for Malaria Venture, is expected to publish results early next year.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation has announced a new initiative, developed with the University of Copenhagen, that will invest up to $260 million to create new or improved vaccines for serious respiratory diseases. It is the first global vaccines initiative to solely focus on how to produce immunity in the airway itself as a way to prevent airborne disease infection. The initiative will initially focus on candidates for tuberculosis, the flu, and Group A Streptococcus. The partners hope that the new project can help to address the rise of antimicrobial resistance, which is driven, in part, by the overuse or misuse of antibiotics to treat airway infections, as well as to address the high death toll globally from these diseases.

The European Medicines Agency Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use recently adopted a positive scientific opinion for the investigational drug arpraziquantel for schistosomiasis, a neglected tropical disease that affects more than 240 million people globally, including 50 million preschool-aged children. There is no child-friendly schistosomiasis medication for preschool-aged children, despite safe and effective treatments available for both adults and school-aged children. The Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) Fund has supported the Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium’s development of the drug since 2013 and is now working with the consortium’s implementation research program to prepare for the introduction of the drug in endemic African countries to ensure equitable and sustainable access in the countries where it is most needed.

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