September 15, 2014

Research Roundup: Congressional priorities, new HIV antibody, biomedical research funding, TB drug trial results, 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.

Now that members of Congress are back in their Capitol Hill offices after five weeks of recess, lawmakers must decide what to prioritize and what to push off in the few short weeks left in session before members hit the campaign trail for the upcoming November mid-term elections. In the latest post on Breakthroughs, GHTC Senior Policy and Advocacy Associate, Jenny Howell, provides a breakdown of what lawmakers should do to ensure global health research and development gets the support it needs.

Federal funding in the United States for biomedical research has declined by more than 20 percent in the last decade. At the same time, more scientists are competing for a smaller pot of money. NPR highlights two stories of researchers forced out of science because they either can’t get research funding or “because the rat race has simply become too unpleasant.”

Scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have discovered an HIV antibody that could be effective in fighting the deadly disease. According to the scientists, the antibody—called 35O22—can prevent 62 percent of known HIV strains from infecting cells. The NIH-led scientists also found that the antibody closely resembles antibodies that naturally occur in HIV, which could help in the development of an eventual vaccine.

Results from a recent clinical trial could change the approach researchers take on the delivery and development of tuberculosis (TB) drugs in the future. While the REMoxTB trial did not successfully prove TB treatment times could be shortened from six to four months by substituting antibiotic moxiflacin for a currently used drug, it did prove that moxiflacin was safe to use to treat TB on its own. Also, because the trial was one of the largest ever for a new TB regimen, the trial left a stronger research infrastructure to conduct other trials in the future.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has committed $50 million to fight Ebola in West Africa. According to Gates Foundation CEO Susan Desmond-Hellmann, the new money will be available for emergency operations and to help develop drugs, diagnostics, and vaccines to fight the disease. The Gates Foundation’s commitment is the largest sum to ever for one outbreak.