November 16, 2014

Research Roundup: Malaria eradication, indemnity for Ebola vaccine manufacturers, drug development impediments, and more

Marissa Chmiola
Communications Officer

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

Last week, East Asia Summit members signed a regional commitment to eradicate malaria from the Asia-Pacific region by 2030. This communique, which came out of the 9th East Asia Summit, includes support for the research and development of new drugs and diagnostic tools to fight malaria.

As the international community races to develop a vaccine against the Ebola virus, a World Health Organization official said the World Bank may establish a mechanism to help indemnify Ebola vaccine makers in case liabilities arise once a vaccine is widely administered. In some cases, rare adverse reactions to a drug are not always identified through the clinical trial process, so a mechanism that protects manufacturers from liability could reduce the financial risk of bringing an Ebola vaccine to market.

The New York Times Magazine took an in-depth look at why there are so few blockbuster drugs invented today. Scientists expected that once the human genome was sequenced, it would usher in a golden era of drug development and profits for the pharmaceutical industry. While there have been breakthroughs, it’s since been discovered that most diseases affecting large numbers of individuals are caused by a handful of interacting mutations, which makes them tougher to treat and prevent. The article looks at this and other factors impacting drug development.

A team of Chinese scientists claim to have eradicated malaria in Comoros—a small island nation off the east coast of Africa—by administering a new Chinese-made drug to all 700,000 people on the island as part of a massive medical experiment supported by the Comoran government. The scientists say that by administering repeated doses of medicine to everyone in the country for three months, they removed the malaria parasite from the bloodstream of the entire population, thereby halting the life cycle

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