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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.

March 4, 2024 by Hannah Sachs-Wetstone

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The Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator (CARB-X) last week announced $467,000 in funding to GlyProVac to develop a maternal vaccine that targets Escherichia coli, the bacteria mainly responsible for neonatal sepsis, which is the leading cause of death among infants and a particular challenge in low- and middle-income countries. The funding will specifically support the development of the vaccine candidate GPV02, which offers protection to newborns through the antibodies passed on by vaccinated expectant mothers in utero and through breast milk after birth. GPV02 uses a unique approach compared to other attempted protein-based bacterial vaccines because it involves previously undiscovered natural sugar modifications and uses BEMAP technology to allow the vaccine to imitate E. coli, preparing the immune system to recognize the bacterium in the case of future infection.

Last week, the Advisory Group on Immunization Practices at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended Valneva’s Ixchiq chikungunya vaccine for some travelers and laboratory researchers at risk of contracting the mosquito-borne virus. The United States records about 100 to 200 chikungunya cases a year in people infected abroad by the virus, which is mainly found in parts of Central and South America, Africa, and Asia. The vaccine was licensed by the Food and Drug Administration last fall for adults—the first vaccine approved for chikungunya. CDC has indicated that it may later expand the recommendation for people living in US territories where the virus may spread.

A new extensive, long-term analysis from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai found that COVID-19 vaccines induce long-lasting antibody responses, debunking previous claims that mRNA-based vaccine immunity wanes quickly. The researchers examined in over 8,000 samples collected over three years in New York City how antibody responses changed after infections, during the first series of vaccinations, during booster vaccinations, and during breakthrough infections. They concluded that the major reason for breakthrough infections is the virus evolving to evade immunity rather than waning immunity. The results will, hopefully, not only encourage people to continue to get vaccine boosters but also to continue research into new vaccines and viral variants.

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