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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.

February 5, 2024 by Hannah Sachs-Wetstone

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Last Wednesday, the World Health Organization and the Medicines Patent Pool announced a new nonexclusive license agreement with SD Biosensor for the firm’s rapid diagnostic testing technology, which, through a phased technology transfer plan, will allow sublicensees to manufacture the technology, with additional benefits for the broader effort of manufacturing capacity-building in low- and middle-income countries. The agreement was negotiated under the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP), which was launched at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it includes a broad range of diseases, including HIV, malaria, and syphilis. The rapid testing technology is the basis of SD Biosensor’s COVID-19 antigen test and is ideal for low- and middle-income countries because it has no equipment requirements and is easy to use with high sensitivity. The announcement also coincided with the unveiling of a new business model, the Health Technology Access Pool, which will succeed C-TAP and address other priority health issues beyond COVID-19.

A new project—FLAVIVACCINE—from a diverse consortium of partners aims to increase the European Union’s ability to combat epidemic and viral threats in Europe and globally by supporting the development of a pan-flavivirus vaccine candidate that could protect against multiple flaviviruses, such as dengue, yellow fever, Zika, and West Nile. Beyond seeking a vaccine candidate, the project also aims to provide support across the R&D value chain, offering a boost to the broader global pandemic preparedness and response capability. The project is being organized by public and private institutions, including universities, research institutions, and a vaccine developer, spanning seven countries in Europe and the United States.

A new grant to the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will support the development of innovative new drugs for sleeping sickness and river blindness. Specifically, the $20 million grant spanning until 2027 will support a single-dose cure for sleeping sickness and a short-course new treatment for river blindness, both diseases with a major footprint in sub-Saharan Africa and for which new tools are urgently needed to accelerate progress toward elimination, despite enormous progress in controlling them in recent years. These investments build on earlier-stage research also supported by the Gates Foundation.

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