June 24, 2019

Research Roundup: Rotavirus vaccine may help protect against Type 1 diabetes, 1 million child-friendly TB courses ordered since 2016, and Trump orders agencies to trim advisory panels

Ansley Kahn
Senior Program Assistant
PATH/Gabe Bienczyckic

Interested in more global health innovation news? Every week GHTC scours media reports worldwide to deliver essential global health R&D news and content to your inbox. Sign-up now to receive our weekly R&D News Roundup email.

A large new study confirms previous research suggesting that a vaccine against rotavirus—a highly contagious virus that can cause severe illness and death in infants and young children— may have an added benefit: lowering the risk for Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease that usually develops in childhood. The study showed a 33 percent reduction in the incidence of Type 1 diabetes among children who completed the three-dose RotaTeq series compared with unvaccinated children. RotaTeq, which protects against five different strains of rotavirus, is one of two orally administered rotavirus vaccines. Among those children in the study who took only one or two of the required three RotaTeq doses, there was no reduction in incidence compared with unvaccinated children. The reductions in risk in those who took the other version of the rotavirus vaccine, Rotarix, were not statistically significant.

Approximately one million treatment courses of new child-friendly, easy-to-administer tuberculosis (TB) medicines have been ordered by 93 countries since they were first introduced in 2016, according to developer TB Alliance. Prior to the development of these treatments, caregivers would approximate children’s dosing by crushing or splitting bitter-flavored adult pills, which created adherence challenges. The new treatments meet World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for childhood TB treatment and are dissolvable in water and flavored for palatability, making it easier for caregivers to administer. The 93 countries in which these treatments have been introduced account for 75 percent of the estimated global childhood TB burden. According to WHO, one million children are diagnosed with TB every year.

US President Donald Trump recently issued an executive order calling for all US federal agencies to cut at least one-third of their advisory committees by September—a move many previous agency heads and critics say would weaken science-based regulation processes and the use of evidence-based policymaking. When excluding agencies that are mandated by law, a total of 462 boards and advisory committees that advise on government regulations and provide scientific oversight on other agency decisions are potentially on the chopping block as a result of the executive order. Critics of the executive order said that the one-third number put forth by the Trump administration seemed completely arbitrary and also pushed back on the notion that cutting the committees would save taxpayer dollars.