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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.

June 10, 2024 by Hannah Sachs-Wetstone

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Last Wednesday, US Food and Drug Administration advisers recommended that next fall’s updated COVID-19 vaccine target the lineage of the JN.1 variant, which became dominant in the United States last winter. There was some debate among experts on whether the vaccine should target the KP.2 subtype of the variant that is now most common in the United States or other offshoot subtypes that may become more dominant over the summer, ultimately deciding to target JN.1 itself, with the hope that the vaccine would offer some cross-protection against other subvariants that might emerge. Moderna, Pfizer, and Novavax say they could have JN.1.-specific shots ready by the fall.

Two clinical trials have been launched to test a new, long-acting form of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, in cisgender women and people who inject drugs, two populations that have been largely underrepresented in HIV clinical trials. The mid-stage studies, sponsored and funded by Gilead and implemented through the HIV Prevention Trials Network, will test lenacapavir, an injectable antiretroviral drug administered every six months, which is already approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for HIV treatment in combination with other antiretroviral therapy for heavily treatment-experienced individuals and is the first in the capsid inhibitors class of drugs to be FDA approved for HIV treatment. The researchers hope these studies will provide critical data on the use of lenacapavir as HIV PrEP.

Last week, the Sabin Vaccine Institute announced a new research project with the Kenya Medical Research Institute aimed at optimizing the use of the oral cholera vaccine in the face of a global resurgence in cholera and acute vaccine shortages, hopefully improving the impact of the vaccine and saving lives. The shortage of the oral cholera vaccine in 2022 led the World Health Organization (WHO) to temporarily modify the two-dose vaccine regimen and recommend a single dose during outbreaks, underscoring the urgent need for research to optimize vaccine use. WHO currently recommends two doses of oral cholera vaccine two weeks apart. The new research will test strategies to extend the time between doses to ensure that more people can receive protection.

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