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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.

June 17, 2024 by Hannah Sachs-Wetstone

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On Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a new report detailing the antibacterial agents, including antibiotics, in clinical and preclinical development worldwide, finding that despite improvements, the pipeline remains inadequate to confront the urgent need for new, innovative technologies to address serious infections and replace those becoming ineffective due to rising antimicrobial resistance. According to the report, new products are not being developed at the pace and scale needed to ensure new antibiotics are delivered, given the time required for products to move through the pipeline and the likelihood of failure. Specifically, the report identified gaps in agents for children, agents with more convenient oral formulations, and agents that can address drug-resistant pathogens. The report also stressed that efforts to boost innovation must accompany parallel efforts to ensure equitable access to existing and new products, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, where access gaps can hasten the rise of drug resistance.  

Last week, the Global Antibiotic Research & Development Partnership (GARDP) announced an agreement with Bugworks Research to support the further development of a new broad-spectrum antibiotic that targets some of the most difficult-to-treat bacterial pathogens, aiming to enable access simultaneously in Western countries and low- and middle-income countries with a high burden of antimicrobial resistance. GARDP will provide Bugworks up to $20 million in financial and technical support through the approval and commercialization of BWC0977, a compound that has demonstrated in-vitro activity against WHO critical priority pathogens, in return for the manufacturing and commercialization rights to it in 146 primarily low- and middle-income countries. Bugworks previously received more than $12 million from the Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator, or CARB-X, for the preclinical development and Phase 1 study of the compound.

Moderna recently announced positive late-stage trial results for mRNA-1083, its COVID-flu combination vaccine. The company is the first of several testing a combined COVID-flu vaccine to announce positive late-stage trial results, as experts raise calls for new tools to ensure more people have better protection against both viruses. Trial participants who received the vaccine showed an improved immune response compared with those who got the standalone flu and COVID vaccines that are currently available, even for people 65 years and older, who generally do not mount as robust immune responses to vaccines compared to younger people. The company hopes to have the vaccine approved for the fall of 2025.

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