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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.

September 30, 2019 by Ansley Kahn

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A study has revealed that an antibody, known as IgM, is far more influential in combating malaria than previously thought—which may have important implications on the development of a malaria vaccine. It was previously thought that IgM played a supporting role in the body’s immune response to malaria, that it would initiate this response and then disappear when the primary antibody, IgG, took over. However, this new research shows IgM acting as a co-lead with IgG to block and clear malaria infection in the blood. As a next step, scientists are seeking to understand why the immune system generates both antibodies in response to malaria infection and determine whether vaccines that stimulate an immune system to produce IgM antibodies give better protection against malaria. Researchers hope this new insight brings them one step closer to developing a highly effective vaccine against malaria.

The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) announced that it will provide US$14 million and organizational expertise to support the continued development of the investigational Ebola treatment known as mAb114. BARDA will assist Ridgeback Biotherapeutics of Miami, the company manufacturing mAb114, with its application for licensure with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). mAb114, a monoclonal antibody that works by binding to virus proteins, thus reducing their ability to infect human cells, is currently being used in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to help combat the ongoing Ebola outbreak as part of a clinical trial. mAb114 has already obtained an FDA Breakthrough Therapy Designation, which allows participating companies to work more closely with FDA officials in pushing for approval.

Last week, at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage (UHC), member states reached a comprehensive agreement which commits countries to advance UHC for their citizenry. UN Secretary-General António Guterres called the political declaration “the most comprehensive agreement ever reached on global health” and a “significant achievement” that will drive progress over the next decade on tackling diseases like HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, along with the growing burden of non-communicable diseases and antimicrobial resistance through primary health care systems. In adopting the declaration, member states have committed to investing in policies that expand access to health care while preventing financial hardship and developing and implementing high-impact health interventions to combat diseases and protect women’s and children’s health.

About the author

Ansley KahnGHTC

Ansley Kahn is a senior program assistant at GHTC who supports GHTC's communications and member engagement activities.