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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 26, 2023 by Hannah Sachs-Wetstone

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Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) published its first global research agenda outlining key priorities in the fight against antimicrobial resistance. The intent of the agenda is to provide researchers, policymakers, funders, and other stakeholders with priority research topics for which greater action and evidence is needed. It covers issues including preserving current antimicrobials, advancing point-of-care diagnostic tests, and developing novel drugs to treat drug-resistant infections. The 40 priorities that relate to prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care, and cross-cutting topics were developed after a review of more than 3,000 documents published over the past decade looking at antimicrobial resistance.

A recent study found promising results for a new, point-of-care genomic test for human papillomavirus (HPV) that could be a cheaper and more accessible option for cervical cancer screening in low-resource areas like sub-Saharan Africa, which has the highest rate of deaths from cervical cancer globally. Unlike currently available screening options, the HPV DNA test can be performed by a health care professional with minimal training using a mini centrifuge in the lab, cutting out the need for robust laboratory infrastructure and highly skilled professionals. The research team behind the test is now trying to make the test even more effective and efficient in low-resource settings by making it faster, inclusive of more HPV genotypes, and more sensitive.

Researchers from the University of Montreal recently published a study showing for the first time the crucial role of a protein, adyl hydrocarbon receptor, or AhR, in allowing HIV to remain latent in the body, thus requiring antiretroviral therapy to be maintained in order to keep the virus from replicating. The researchers used CRISPR technology and drugs to neutralize the activity of AhR and observed that viral growth occurred in people living with HIV and on antiretroviral therapy. The study proposes a “shock and kill” strategy that would use drugs to inhibit and then reactivate AhR in the presence of AhR inhibitors to expose the HIV-infected cells for the immune system to then target and kill. Investigators hope further research can validate this method of fighting HIV.

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