September 06, 2015

Research Roundup: injectable HIV treatment, the role of health technologies in reaching SDGs, PrEP showing promise, and more

Marissa Chmiola
Communications Officer

An injectable HIV/AIDS treatment that could offer HIV-positive individuals an option other than taking daily pills is entering late-stage clinical-trials. In previous studies, the drug—PRO140—was shown to be successfully in suppressing viral loads to an undetectable level for at least one month in 98 percent of patients. Most HIV-positive patients take nearly 30 antiretroviral pills every week. In some patients, these pills cause kidney and liver damage as well as resistance to further treatment. The developers of this new treatment hope PRO140 could become available in once-a-week, two-dose treatments by 2017, pending success of clinical trials.

Former US Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers and Lancet Commission member Gavin Yamey write in a Huffington Post op-ed that the development of game-changing health technologies will be critical to reaching the health goal in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They argue that reaching the SDG health targets is not possible with today’s health tools and that new medicines, vaccines, diagnostics, and other innovations will be required. To spur such innovation, they call for increased investment in global health research and development from all nations.

A new observational study suggests that taking daily pills to prevent HIV infection—known as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)—is working to prevent HIV infection in the real world. Kaiser Permanente of San Francisco announced last week that none of its 657 clients receiving PrEP have become infected over a period of more than two years. When PrEP was introduced, many critics predicted that it could decrease condom use, in turn leading to more HIV infections. Advocates of PrEP say this study shows that such concerns were unwarranted, as PrEP is proving effective in nonclinical settings.

CNN reports in-depth on the global spread of Dengue and efforts to control and treat the disease. While Dengue fever was once a problem only in pockets of South America and Southeast Asia, today more than 100 countries harbor risk of infection. Currently, there is no treatment or vaccine against for the disease and no effective prevention options; because the mosquitoes that carry Dengue bite during the day, bed nets that have been critical in preventing malaria are not effective for Dengue prevention. New mosquito control interventions, drugs, and vaccines are needed to tackle the disease.

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