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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.

April 1, 2024 by Hannah Sachs-Wetstone

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Last Tuesday, Valneva announced the launch of a Phase 1 clinical trial to investigate the safety and immunogenicity of a vaccine against the Zika virus, for which there are currently no available preventable vaccines or treatments. The second-generation adjuvanted inactivated vaccine candidate, VLA1601, will be tested in 150 adult participants in the United States, with the first topline data from the trial expected as soon as early next year.  Numerous outbreaks of Zika have occurred around the world, but the virus is currently circulating in Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean region, and some areas of the continental United States.

Moderna’s next-generation mRNA vaccine for COVID-19 elicited a higher immune response against most strains of omicron BA.4/BA.5 and the original virus than the company’s currently licensed vaccine and has a similar safety profile in Phase 3 trial. The vaccine candidate, mRNA-1283, demonstrated the highest benefits in patients over 65, who are at risk of more severe disease. The trial included over 11,000 patients from across the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. These results also point to the future promise of the company’s combination mRNA vaccines for COVID-19 and influenza, which are also currently in development and previously demonstrated a similar immune response to the company’s vaccines for COVID-19.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced the approval of Roche’s Cobas malaria test for screening blood, organ, and tissue donors, which could help reduce the risk of transfusion-transmitted malaria. The test is designed to qualitatively detect in whole-blood samples Plasmodium DNA and RNA from the five main species of Plasmodium parasite species known to cause human infection: P. falciparum, P. malariae, P. vivax, P. ovale, and P. knowlesi. Roche’s technology is now the first FDA-licensed test for screening blood donors for malaria.

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