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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.

March 13, 2023 by Hannah Sachs-Wetstone

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PANTHER, a newly launched pan-African platform for emergency research and preparedness, aims to address the lack of clinical trials carried out on the continent, despite it facing a disproportionate amount of the global disease burden. The researchers behind the initiative see the platform as a way to ensure essential data is captured in clinical trials during active outbreaks of existing or newly emerging diseases, especially following the recent Marburg and Sudan ebolavirus outbreaks. PANTHER hopes to prepare around 80 percent of the groundwork for trials before an outbreak by targeting at-risk spots, creating a network of researchers and health care providers, and proactively engaging funders so that when an outbreak is identified, this foundation can be quickly leveraged to adapt trials to local contexts and specific disease characteristics.

Last week, researchers announced promising results from a phase 1 clinical trial, supported by the US National Institutes of Health, looking at a temperature-stable tuberculosis (TB) vaccine that can be freeze-dried and safely stored at higher temperatures for months. The shot, given to 45 healthy adults in the study, was found safe, well-tolerated, and elicited measurable responses in the body. If further testing of the vaccine proves successful, the shot could be a clear alternative to the bacille Calmette-Guerin vaccine—the only licensed vaccine for TB, which is more sensitive and cannot be frozen— and break down barriers to vaccine distribution in low-income and low-resource settings around the world.

A new paper found that more than 10 percent of people in rural Myanmar have been exposed to a diverse range of sarbecoviruses, a group of coronaviruses that includes Sars and Sars-Cov-2. Researchers also emphasized that the paper confirmed the risk of direct spillover from bats, especially in remote, rural areas. While there were no signs of human-to-human transmission of these viruses, the findings highlight the ongoing occurrence of spillovers and the need for surveillance of both disease outbreaks and rural areas with high wildlife-human interface, as well as ensuring strong biosecurity laboratory measures are in place.

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