August 1, 2022
GHTC endorses GHC position paper for WHO pandemic preparedness group
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GHTC endorses a position paper by the Global Health Council (GHC) providing recommendations to the World Health Organization (WHO) Working Group for Pandemic Preparedness and Response on reforms to strengthen the agency's preparedness and response capabilities.
November 8, 2021
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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 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.
July 25, 2022
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. Following the remarkable success of the first COVID-19 vaccines, developed at unprecedented speeds, investment in next-generation shots has so far fallen short, according to some experts. Nasal vaccines, in particular, experts say could prove more effective at preventing COVID-19 infections than intramuscular shots, as they concentrate immune protection in the upper airway and induce mucosal immune responses where the virus typically enters the body. Several nasal vaccine candidates are in development in the United States—though primarily remain in preclinical or early-stage clinical trials—as well as globally, including phase 3 trials in India and China. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, for example, is funding early research on a protein-based nasal spray as well as an mRNA vaccine delivered into the nose using nanoparticles, though any successful nasal vaccine is likely years away from becoming available.As monkeypox cases continue to rise globally, experts and leaders are looking at health technologies with potential to combat the virus—including repurposed smallpox vaccines that have begun to be deployed, predominantly in high-income countries. In addition to vaccines, scientists are evaluating existing drugs that could serve as treatments against monkeypox, for which there are no specific treatments licensed. A recent study in JAMA analyzed several preexisting drugs, including antivirals brincidofovir and tecovirimat, both of which have been tested among monkeypox patients in the past with varying success. The ongoing uncertainty surrounding treatments for the new outbreak highlights the lack of evidence-based therapeutics for monkeypox, according to the journal article, as well as the inequities in the global response as countermeasures have been stockpiled by high-income countries but remain limited in monkeypox-endemic countries.In a new study, researchers describe how a Lassa virus protein drives infection by harnessing a cellular protein in human hosts, as well as identify how future therapies could target this interaction to treat patients. The research suggests that disrupting the link between Lassa polymerase—a protein encoded by the virus—and a specific host protein it interacts with—GSPT1—could stop Lassa virus infection. In pursuit of this, the research team identified an existing drug candidate, CC-90009, that has been shown to destroy GSPT1 proteins and is currently being examined in clinical trials as a cancer therapy. In early experiments, CC-90009 significantly reduced Lassa virus growth without obvious cell toxicity, and researchers plan to continue evaluation in animal models. There is currently no antiviral drug that specifically targets Lassa virus.