August 26, 2019

Research Roundup: WHO releases findings from malaria eradication report, two-month HIV injection could be on its way, and refrigerator to protect vaccines against power outages

Ansley Kahn
Senior Program Assistant
PATH/Patrick McKern

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.

Last Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the findings of its malaria eradication report, a three-year long analysis of the global fight against the mosquito-borne disease, calling for “transformative tools and knowledge” to achieve eradication. A summary of the report noted that current tools are not sufficient to wipe out the disease and urged scientists and global health funders to invest in research and development (R&D) of new vector control technologies, vaccines, and medicines to prevent and treat the disease. Currently, less than one percent of investment in health R&D goes to developing tools to tackle malaria. The report calls attention to the funds, tools, and political will needed to control the disease considering WHO data which shows that progress against malaria is stalling after a decade of significant decline in malaria cases and deaths.

A phase 3 study from GSK’s ViiV Healthcare showed an injection of its drug cabotegravir and Johnson & Johnson’s Edurant (rilpivirine) could work just as well when given every two months as it does as a monthly therapy. An application of this two-drug injectable regimen as a once-monthly injection has already been put under US Food and Drug Administration priority review with a decision expected by December 29. In two earlier phase 3 trials, the long-acting injectable therapy was found to be as effective as both an oral three-drug regimen of two nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors plus a third agent and ViiV’s own triple drug therapy, Triumeq, in reducing viral load. These results demonstrate progress in efforts to reduce the number of medicines a person living with HIV must take as well as the frequency of treatments.

British technology and energy company, Sure Chill, has developed a refrigerator to protect medical supplies, such as vaccines, from power outages. Vaccines are often temperature sensitive to both high and low temperatures, which presents a major challenge for health workers in low-resource settings with limited or unreliable electricity supplies. The refrigerator works by harnessing a natural phenomenon. The refrigerator has a cold compartment that is surrounded by water that cools when connected to power, forming a layer of ice above the chamber. When the electricity is shut off, the warm water rises as the ice melts, keeping the water at a consistent temperature for up to four weeks without power. The refrigerator has kept more than 20 million vaccinations cold and has been approved for use by the WHO.