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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.

February 12, 2024 by Hannah Sachs-Wetstone

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Two new reports from the AMR Industry Alliance, a coalition of companies and trade unions in industries working to combat antimicrobial resistance (AMR), highlight both progress and setbacks in the field of antimicrobial resistance research and antibiotic development, as the threat of AMR rises globally. A survey of members demonstrated positive findings, including many industry members having implemented measures to support antimicrobial stewardship and efforts to increase antibiotic access in lower-resource countries, as well as having invested in AMR-relevant R&D. On the other hand, there has been a decline in AMR researchers over the last few decades, leading to less published research on AMR and fewer patents on new antibiotics, the decline particularly acute when compared to cancer and HIV/AIDS. The findings highlight the need for government and private sector incentives to provide adequate funding and investment for AMR research and novel antibiotic development, as well as for efforts to introduce young scientists to the field.

The Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator (CARB-X) recently announced $1.8 million in funding to biotechnology company Visby Medical to develop a portable rapid diagnostic test that detects Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the pathogen that causes gonorrhea, as well as its susceptibility to ciprofloxacin, an oral antibiotic that was formerly a go-to treatment, which can no longer treat resistant forms of the pathogen. The test would allow health care providers to rapidly test and refer patients to the right treatment while hopefully ensuring that ceftriaxone, the only remaining effective antibiotic against resistant N. gonorrhea, is properly managed. The funding will also support the development of a test for N. gonorrhoeae, Chlamydia trachomatis, and Trichomonas vaginalis in men based on urine samples.

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) will provide up to $2 million in funding to German biotech company LenioBio GmbH for a preclinical proof-of-concept for using its commercially available, plant-based, and cell-free technology to produce proteins for use in clinical trials testing vaccines against epidemic and pandemic threats in 20 to 40 days. If proven successful, this approach could greatly reduce the time it traditionally takes to manufacture vaccine proteins using other methods, which would be a major boon to CEPI’s 100 Days Mission to develop vaccines against novel pathogens with pandemic potential within 100 days of identification. The easy-to-use technology could also be rolled out for use in remote or low-resource settings, allowing greater availability of and access to future vaccines in those settings. 

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