Anna Kovacevich is a senior program assistant at GHTC who supports GHTC's communications and member engagement activities.
Research Roundup: Long-acting PrEP deal, new monkeypox tools, and pan-coronavirus shot progress
In this regular feature on Breakthroughs, we highlight some of the most interesting reads in global health research from the past week.
The Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) and ViiV Healthcare last week announced a new voluntary licensing agreement that would allow for generic manufacturing and distribution of long-acting cabotegravir in an effort to expand access to the HIV prevention drug. Long-acting cabotegravir—an injectable form of preexposure prophylaxis, or PrEP—can provide two months of protection against HIV infection with a single shot, while most other forms of PrEP require daily pills. The new licensing agreement between the United Nations-backed MPP and ViiV will let select generic manufacturers apply for sublicensing to develop, manufacture, and supply generic forms of the drug in 90 countries—pending regulatory approvals—where the HIV burden and potential use of cabotegravir is the highest.
The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) is supporting an initiative to develop a standardized approach to test the performance of vaccines being used or in development against monkeypox. The new funding, announced days after the World Health Organization declared monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern, will go to the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and the UK Health Security Agency to pursue tools able to assess the strength and duration of immune responses generated by current vaccines, as well as for tests used to detect monkeypox antibody levels. These tools will subsequently be made available to the global scientific community for free, apart from administration fees, enabling a standardized assessment between countries documenting vaccine performance against monkeypox, according to CEPI.
Researchers have identified a specific area of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein as a good target for pan-coronavirus vaccines, making a promising advance in the development of a shot to protect against COVID-19 variants and common colds. A universal coronavirus vaccine would need to induce antibodies that recognize and neutralize a wide range of viruses—a challenge, given the complexities of the coronavirus family, according to scientists. In the new study, scientists investigated whether antibodies targeting the S2 subunit of SARS-CoV-2’s spike protein could also neutralize other coronaviruses, including a strain of the common cold as well as several COVID-19 variants, and found promising results among mice. The researchers plan to continue to study the method as potential pan-coronavirus vaccine target and evaluate how it could be integrated with currently licensed vaccines.