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.

May 13, 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. 

Last week, the Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) Fund awarded a two-year grant to the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) and its partner Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation to continue lead optimization work on a novel compound to target the Trypanosoma cruzi parasite that causes Chagas disease, a neglected parasitic disease that affects an estimated 6 million people globally every year. Current treatments for Chagas, which were developed decades ago, need to be administered for eight weeks, can have serious and potentially toxic side effects, and have not been proven effective in people with severe chronic symptoms. The partners hope their work will lead to preclinical development candidate compounds and, eventually, a new medicine for Chagas disease that is safe and effective for all patients, including pregnant individuals.

Researchers have developed an experimental vaccine that has the potential to protect against a broad range of coronaviruses, including known and as-of-yet-unknown varieties. The experimental vaccine was made by taking harmless proteins shared across different coronaviruses and attaching them to minuscule nanoparticles that are then injected to prime the body’s immune system to broadly target both known and unknown viruses in the same family. The vaccine induced a broad immune response to coronaviruses in mice, including to the pathogen that caused the 2003 Sars outbreak, even though proteins from that virus were not added to the vaccine. If proven safe and effective in humans, this and other proactive vaccines designed to target separate pathogens could be stockpiled by countries along with clear plans to quickly scale up production if a new pandemic-potential pathogen emerges. The universal vaccine can be made in existing facilities for microbial fermentation, and the researchers are already working with industrial partners on how to scale up production. There would need to be new processes designed with medical regulators before approval because there are no current procedures for the regulation of proactive vaccinology.

Last Monday, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority announced the launch of the next generation of its accelerator network, which will include a diagnostics and medical devices program and a therapeutics hub. The former will be called the International Consortium for Research, Engineering, Acceleration of Technology Excellence and will support the development and acceleration of new diagnostics and medical devices aimed at improving health security. Along with three more hubs expected to be announced later this year, these hubs will create a global network to foster the growth of the health security innovation ecosystem, including support across the entire process, from development and evaluation to validation and commercialization of new technologies.

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