July 27, 2014

Research Roundup: Appropriations, Ebola, AIDS 2014, open working groups, and more

Senior Program Assistant

In this regular feature on Breakthroughs, we highlight some of the most interesting reads in global health research from the past week.

In a bit of good news, the fiscal year (FY) 2015 defense appropriations bill—which was approved by the Appropriations Committee last Thursday—includes a $7 million increase for peer-reviewed medical research—from $200 million in FY 2014 to $207 million this year—despite a reduction in overall Department of Defense (DoD) funding from FY 2014 levels. In addition, in the accompanying report, the Appropriations Committee included very strong language recognizing DoD’s substantial contributions to global health research and development (R&D) and the need to support sustained US investments in this area.

FHI 360 sat down with International Partnership for Microbicides CEO Zeda Rosenberg to discuss last week’s 20th International AIDS Conference. In this short video, Rosenberg highlights the need to focus on key populations—such as young women in sub-Saharan Africa—and the importance of women-initiated products like microbicides as a HIV prevention tool.

Nearly 40 years after the discovery of the Ebola virus, no licensed treatments or prevention options are currently available. With the largest outbreak ever of the virus currently underway in West Africa, some are arguing that scientists should begin to develop new drugs and vaccines to combat this deadly disease. According to CNN, it’s likely too late for a vaccine to have enough of a preventative impact now, but using this time to test experimental vaccines—such as one developed by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health—could help when Ebola emerges again in the future.

Last week, the United Nation (UN) General Assembly’s Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals released its proposal for a set of goals to succeed the UN Millennium Development Goals which come to an end in 2015. These proposed goals—referred to as the Sustainable Development Goals—will define the post-2015 development agenda. Of the 17 proposed goals put forward by the group, two contain targets related to R&D of new health technologies.

Chagas disease—a neglected tropical disease (NTD) transmitted from the kissing bug and affecting millions of people in Latin America—is now on the rise in northern Virginia. Some doctors in the United States are not familiar with the disease and therefore do not test their patients regularly, which poses a risk to the general population in the United States. Many of the 8 million people with Chagas disease around the world never show signs of the disease, but about a third develop heart disease or megacolon and—when untreated—appear to die from sudden heart attacks. Chagas disease is just one example of NTDs affecting more and more people in the United States.