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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.

March 25, 2018 by Taylor Capizola
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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.

In mouse studies, scientists at the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research have discovered a key step in the digestion process of hookworms that can be targeted to potentially disrupt the parasite’s development and subsequent survival in human blood. Scientists first proved that the mouse-infecting hookworms behaved similarly to human-infecting hookworms. Then, researchers tracked the digestion processes of the hookworms to understand how the hookworm digested heme—the molecular component of hemoglobin. Scientists tested a common chemical compound—quinolones—known to disrupt malaria and schistosoma parasites, and they found that the compound performed well in disrupting the digestion process of the hookworms. Though quinolones are not a viable treatment option for the long run—primarily due to widespread antibiotic resistance—scientists are optimistic that they’ve found a viable avenue to start exploring drugs and vaccine candidates that could affect hookworms in a similar way.

Researchers found that revaccination with the Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine could prevent sustained tuberculosis (TB) infection in adolescents, according to results from a phase 2 clinical trial. Researchers randomly assigned 990 healthy adolescents in South Africa who had been immunized with BCG as infants to one of three groups: A placebo group, an experimental vaccine group, and the BCG vaccine group, with the intent to monitor the rate at which individuals tested positive for TB. Researchers found that BCG’s efficacy of preventing sustained TB infection was 45 percent, 15 percent higher than the experimental vaccine, which was 30 percent. These results could help optimize BCG vaccination approaches and inform TB vaccine development efforts.

A joint venture in Nigeria recently announced their locally produced vaccines will be ready to hit Nigerian markets in the next three to four years, marking the first time since 1991 that Nigerian-produced vaccines will be available to the public. The joint venture, composed of the Nigerian government and May&Baker Nigeria, targets local manufacturers of vaccines to form partnerships and work toward developing an array of vaccines for the Nigerian public. While the types of vaccines to be developed have not been disclosed to the public, the country’s former vaccine production laboratory tackled major public health threats like smallpox, yellow fever, and rabies. The government-run laboratory closed in 1991. This new joint venture plans to incorporate government support, private industry, and partnerships to bring relevant vaccines to the people.


About the author

Taylor CapizolaGHTC

Taylor Capizola is a program assistant at GHTC who supports GHTC's communications and member engagement activities.