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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 20, 2024 by Hannah Sachs-Wetstone

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Last week, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) announced that it will give up to $14.9 million in funding for a new four-year project led by FIND to identify the most reliable tests to detect Lassa and Nipah virus infections, two zoonotic diseases that have, respectively, led to outbreaks in West Africa and South and Southeast Asia. The hope is the initiative will lead to the licensing and widespread availability of tests to help identify and contain future outbreaks early on, reducing cases and deaths of these serious diseases. This project will contribute to CEPI’s broader 100 Days Mission of rapidly developing tools against pandemic threats, as both diseases are among CEPI's priority pathogens.

Researchers have developed a new synthetic antimicrobial compound, cresomycin, which can target many strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, including multidrug-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli. Many antibiotics work by binding to components of the bacteria that make proteins and disrupting them, but some bacteria have adapted resistance mechanisms to prevent this effect; cresomycin has improved binding ability. The researchers hope future studies will show that cresomycin and other compounds like it are safe for use in humans and effective against a variety of deadly resistant bacteria, paving the way for new solutions to stem the rising threat of antimicrobial resistance.

A new study shows that Merck’s Ervebo Ebola vaccine was able to substantially lower the risk of people dying if they still developed the disease compared to those who were unvaccinated, even if they received the vaccine after they had already been infected. It is the first study to show that in addition to preventing infections, the vaccine can also save the lives of people who are already sick. The study, which looked at data from the 2018-2020 Ebola Zaire outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, found the fatality rate was halved among those vaccinated two or fewer days prior to illness compared to those who were unvaccinated. In addition to confirming the effectiveness of post-exposure use of Ervebo, the study also combated concerns that there might be interference between Ebola antibody treatments and the vaccine by showing that people who developed Ebola after being vaccinated were treated as effectively with antibody products as those who had not been vaccinated.

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