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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.

November 20, 2023 by Hannah Sachs-Wetstone

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TB Alliance has launched a new pan-phase 2 clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of replacing bedaquiline with a new experimental compound, TBAJ-876, in the organization’s three-drug BPaL regimen. The new regimen, composed of novel compounds with minimal pre-existing resistance, could provide a method to treat all patients with active tuberculosis (TB), including drug-sensitive and drug-resistant TB, with a universal treatment that is shorter, simpler, and more people-friendly than current regimens. Results from the preclinical and phase 2 studies showed that TBAJ-876, compared to bedaquiline, eliminated TB bacteria faster and was potentially safer. The study aims to enroll 300 participants with drug-sensitive TB at 21 trial sites in Georgia, the Philippines, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda.  

Last week, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced a $23.6 million grant to US-based life science company Micron Biomedical to fund the first-ever mass production of needle-free vaccine technology. The technology, which uses dissolvable microneedles attached to the skin via a patch-like device, has the potential to boost the uptake of a variety of injectables, particularly in low-income countries, because it is simpler to transport and easier to administer. Specifically, the funding will support the development of a manufacturing facility that can make around 10 million doses annually for large clinical trials and hopefully wider use, subject to approval from regulatory authorities.

A phase 3 clinical trial in South Africa found that a widely available oral antibiotic, levofloxacin, was safe and substantially reduced the risk of children and adults developing multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). The trial is the first high-quality study to look at a preventive treatment for MDR-TB in children—there are currently no preventive MDR-TB treatments for adults or children. The researchers hope the new results will lead to updated guidelines from the World Health Organization that will lead to the rapid scale-up of levofloxacin because the drug is already widely available and relatively affordable, with child-friendly formulations already available through procurement agencies.  

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