BREAKTHROUGHS BLOG

December 15, 2014

Research Roundup: R&D funding for neglected diseases, antimicrobial drug resistance, immunity for Ebola vaccine makers, and more

Marissa Chmiola
Communications Officer
GHTC

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

Last week, Policy Cures released its annual G-FINDER report, which analyzes global investment in neglected disease research and development (R&D). The report revealed a US$193 million (6.2 percent) decrease in global funding from 2012 to 2013 primarily due to the US budget sequester, which led to a $188 million (13 percent) decline in funding for the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), the largest funder of neglected disease R&D worldwide.

The United Kingdom’s Review on Antimicrobial Resistance released its first report, which warned that, by 2050, up to 10 million people could die each year from drug-resistant infections, costing the global economy US$100 trillion annually. Economist Jim O’Neill, chief author of the report, believes that this crisis can be mitigated through increased R&D into new antimicrobial drugs and changes in drug-use practices.

Two announcements were recently made that could benefit pharmaceutical companies working to develop Ebola vaccines. Last Tuesday, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell announced that drug makers developing Ebola vaccines would be offered legal and financial immunity through the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, and she urged other nations to follow suit to ensure that “legitimate concerns about liability do not hold back the possibility of developing an Ebola vaccine.” Last Thursday, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance announced that it would commit $300 million to purchase Ebola vaccines once the World Health Organization approved a product. Gavi hopes this move will incentivize pharmaceutical investment and development.

The Atlantic takes an in-depth look at the slow and often frustrating work of developing new drugs and treatments. The article explores the careers of leading scientists—including NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins and Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH—illustrating how their work requires patience, resilience, and the ability to constantly live with and learn from failure.

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