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

January 13, 2019 by Ansley Kahn

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Scientists at the University of Texas Medical Branch have developed an experimental, single-dose drug that has shown to successfully protect non-human primates against all known strains of the Ebola virus. "Our experimental drug can protect against all forms of Ebola known to harm people, suggesting that it will continue to protect people if the Ebola viruses evolve over time," noted scientist Thomas Geisbert. In contrast to many other therapeutics developed to protect against Ebola, a single-dose, broadly effective drug could provide protection against the virus quickly and efficiently during an outbreak while reducing the burden on health care workers in the field. Further studies could explore the efficacy of lower doses of the drug, which could allow for easy-to-administer treatment via auto-injectors.

Researchers at the University of Arizona have taken a major step forward in developing a “mosquito birth control” drug—which targets a unique protein in female mosquitoes—to help curb the spread of malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases. This unique protein is critical for a female’s offspring to hatch and when blocked causes defective shells, leaving the embryos inside to die. Developing a drug that targets this specific protein could provide a way to reduce mosquito populations without harming other insects, such as bees. One scientist noted he hoped this discovery could lead to the development of new insecticides within the next five years, which could be applied to bednets and used in anti-mosquito sprays.

Researchers at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland have developed an experimental new treatment for tuberculosis (TB), which is administered using an inhaler. The treatment—which reduces the bacteria in the lungs that causes TB while helping the patient’s immune system fight the disease—uses all trans retinoic acid (atRA), a derivative of Vitamin A that has been shown as an effective treatment for TB. To deliver the treatment, researchers packaged atRA into safe-for-consumption particles small enough to use in an inhaler. The particles significantly reduced TB-causing bacteria and associated lung damage, which supports the treatment’s potential for clinical testing.

About the author

Ansley KahnGHTC

Ansley Kahn is a senior program assistant at GHTC who supports GHTC's communications and member engagement activities.