Search the GHTC website

In this regular feature on Breakthroughs, we highlight some of the most interesting reads in global health research from the past week.

July 8, 2024 by Hannah Sachs-Wetstone

Interested in more global health innovation news? Every week GHTC scours media reports worldwide to deliver essential global health R&D news and content to your inbox. Sign up now to receive our weekly R&D News Roundup email. 

The US Department of Health and Human Services, through the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, has awarded $176 million to Moderna to support the continued development of a pandemic influenza vaccine that could be used to treat bird flu in people, as concerns about the spread of bird flu cases in dairy cows across the United States continue to rise. Moderna's bird flu vaccine candidate is in very early-stage testing and uses the same mRNA technology as its COVID-19 vaccine. The new funding could support a late-stage trial of the vaccine candidate as early as next year if early study results continue to be positive. The vaccine could also be quickly redirected to target another form of influenza if a different threat emerges.

A research team has developed a test that will help measure the persistence of HIV in people affected by viral strains found predominantly in Africa, which are greatly understudied, helping to fill a major gap in HIV research. Most HIV studies have focused on the strains circulating in Western countries, predominantly by men who have sex with men affected by subtype B, with much fewer studies examining strains circulating in Africa, where women are disproportionately affected. The new laboratory test allows researchers to determine whether following antiretroviral treatment there is any intact viral DNA capable of producing new viruses if antiretroviral treatment is interrupted. The test is already being used to study long-term viral persistence in Uganda and could be a vital tool in the search for an HIV cure that could target and eliminate this intact DNA reservoir.

Last week, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced the launch of a Phase 1 trial testing a nasal vaccine against COVID-19, the first trial conducted by NIH’s National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases as part of Project NextGen, a US government initiative designed to advance the development of next-generation COVID-19 vaccines. In preclinical nonhuman primate studies, the candidate, MPV/S-2P, elicited a strong systemic immune response, as well as mucosal immunity, which plays an important role in controlling respiratory virus replication. Next-generation vaccines, including nasal vaccines, are a key tool needed to reduce COVID-19 infections and transmission as new variants of the virus continue to emerge.

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