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Last week, Indian drug company Cipla confirmed that a generic version of the HIV prophylaxis long-acting cabotegravir (CAB-LA) will be manufactured at its plants in South Africa for the first time, which could potentially offer millions of people at risk of HIV infection in Africa access to the groundbreaking drug. CAB-LA is a two-monthly jab that is easier to take regularly and has also been found to work better than the daily HIV prevention pill, which is currently available for free in South Africa and several other countries on the continent. The introduction of generic manufacturers into the market for HIV drugs has the potential to dramatically reduce medicine prices, which are often out of reach for low- and middle-income countries, even at prices discounted by the manufacturers that hold the original patents.
IAVI and Zendal Group’s subsidiary Biofabri have signed an expanded deal to develop MTBVAC, the only live, attenuated mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB) vaccine in the pipeline. The developers are targeting the vaccine for use in adults and adolescents and are aiming for the candidate to be more effective and potentially longer lasting than the bacillus Calmette-Guérin, or BCG, vaccine that is currently in use to prevent TB in newborns. IAVI is planning to commence a trial for the MTBVAC in 2024 after sufficient funding is secured. The deal also includes support for advancing MTBVAC for infants following Biofabri commencing a phase 3 trial of MTBVAC in neonates last year.
Last week, the US National Institutes of Health announced that they are beginning to enroll patients in an early-stage clinical trial testing an mRNA universal flu vaccine that is aimed at protecting against a wide variety of strains of the flu and providing long-term immunity. The shot, designed by researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, will test whether the shot is safe and produces an immune response in 50 healthy adult volunteers. If proved to be safe and effective, a universal flu vaccine could eliminate the need for scientists and vaccine manufacturers to predict the dominant flu strain and produce shots in advance of prime flu season, as well as reduce the risk of illness and hospitalization, particularly when the shots available are not well matched to the dominant circulating strains.