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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.

May 6, 2024 by Hannah Sachs-Wetstone

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A team of scientists at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine has discovered a new snakebite treatment that can prevent the devastating skin and muscle damage caused by African spitting cobra venom, which can lead to permanent injuries and disfigurements. There are currently no effective treatments for addressing severe bites caused by venom from the spitting cobra, which is responsible for a substantial portion of snakebites in Africa. The scientists found that repurposing the small molecule drug varespladib to target one of the two major toxins in the venom was effective, even when delivered up to an hour after the bite, and the drug also provided protection from venom-induced muscle toxicity.

Newly shared research found that a dose-sparing mpox vaccine approach, which was used during the 2022 mpox outbreak in the United States as global vaccine supplies were stretched, is safe and effective. The study tested an intradermal mpox vaccination regimen in adults using the Jynneos vaccine containing either one-fifth or one-tenth the standard dose, finding the former was generated a comparable antibody response to the standard vaccine regimen. These findings underscore real-world data that have shown similar effectiveness for this dose-sparing intradermal regimen and the standard subcutaneous regimen. The new findings are also timely as a widespread mpox outbreak continues in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Last week, Kephera Diagnostics announced that it received a two-year $606,498 grant from the US National Institutes of Health to help fund the development of a point-of-care test for congenitally transmitted (or mother-to-child transmitted) Chagas disease, which is believed to be the primary transmission method of the disease in the United States. The company will use the funding to develop a point-of-care blood test that can be used to diagnose infection at the point of delivery by measuring the levels of the antibodies that are believed to be the first to appear in the blood in response to infection and can be differentiated from maternal antibodies. Congenital Chagas can be treated with two drugs that are approved for pediatric use, but because the disease is often asymptomatic in newborns, it can resemble the symptoms of other infections and be hard to correctly diagnose.

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