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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.

April 8, 2024 by Hannah Sachs-Wetstone

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The first participants have been vaccinated in a Phase 2 clinical trial of a vaccine candidate for Lassa fever virus, which is being led by an international collaboration between IAVI, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and in-country partners in Nigeria. Lassa fever is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a priority pathogen requiring accelerated research and causes an estimated 5,000 deaths each year, with the disease primarily affecting West Africa. There are no approved vaccines for Lassa currently. The hope is that this trial, which is the most advanced Lassa vaccine trial to date, will lead to the availability of a vaccine candidate for evaluation and use in future Lassa outbreaks and eventually an approved vaccine for routine immunization, as well as foster sustainable in-country research capacity and partnerships through engagement with Nigerian partners.

Last week, FIND and LifeArc announced a new project in Kenya aimed at improving the detection and treatment of visceral leishmaniasis, a neglected tropical disease that mainly affects children and is fatal in more than 95 percent of cases if untreated. The project, which will run from 2024 to 2027, aims to increase early diagnosis and treatment to prevent disability and death from the disease in part by accelerating the development of new and improved diagnostic tests that are more sensitive than those currently available. The project will also build on ongoing efforts to improve community awareness, boost local and national testing capacity, and strengthen overall health system capacity.

Last week, Cepheid announced that its point-of-care HIV test has received prequalification status from WHO. The decision will lead to the inclusion of the company’s HIV-1 PCR assay with extended coverage on a list of tests that meet WHO’s standards for global use, boosting access in low- and middle-income countries without designated or stringent regulatory authorities. The test can be used to detect HIV infection in infants and people who were recently infected and provides rapid results, enabling improved linkage to further care and treatment initiation.

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