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U.S. Clinical Trials Show Single Dose Of H1N1 Vaccine Protects Pregnant Women, Children Under 10 Need Two Doses

U.S. government data released on Monday confirmed that a single dose of the vaccine protects pregnant women from the virus, while children under the age of 10 years need two doses of the vaccine, the Washington Post reports. The findings came the same day that a team of experts tasked with monitoring the national H1N1 vaccine campaign for any adverse side effects met for the first time.

MSF Report Examines Past, Present, Future Management Of Neglected Tropical Diseases

“In order to break the vicious cycle that leaves tropical diseases neglected, existing programs that diagnose and treat patients need to be expanded and medical research to develop simpler, more effective tools needs to be supported, according to a new report, Fighting Neglect [.pdf], released [Monday] by Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders (MSF),” the organization reports on its webpage. “Charting the organization’s 25 years of experience in diagnosing and treating Chagas disease, sleeping sickness, and kala azar in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and the Caucasus, the report examines past, present, and future management of the diseases and notes that access to quality life-saving treatment requires much greater political will among major international donors and national governments of endemic countries,” MSF writes (6/11).

New Data On Individuals With Natural Ability To Fight Off AIDS

“Scientists on Sunday said they had found a key piece in the puzzle as to why a tiny minority of individuals infected with HIV have a natural ability to fight off the deadly AIDS virus,” Agence France-Presse reports. “In a study they said holds promise for an HIV vaccine, researchers from four countries reported the secret lies not in the number of infection-killing cells a person has, but in how well they work,” AFP writes. “Only about one person in 300 has the ability to control the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) without drugs” the news service notes (6/10).

Brazilian Researchers Say Schistosomiasis Vaccine Could Be Available In 3 Years

“Brazilian researchers say they have successfully tested a vaccine against schistosomiasis, a disease caused by parasitic worms that afflicts more than 200 million people worldwide,” Agence France-Presse reports. Researchers from the Oswaldo Cruz Institute in Rio de Janeiro “said it had successfully tested the vaccine in humans, but that more testing would be required in areas where the parasite is most common, mainly in Africa and South America,” the news agency writes. Institute researcher Tania Araujo-Jorge said she hopes the vaccine will be available for distribution within three years, according to AFP (6/13).

Clinical Trials Can Benefit Under-Represented Populations In Developing Countries

While conducting more clinical trials in developing countries can help under-represented populations benefit from new medical developments, trials in low-income settings face challenges such as complicated regulations, Trudie Lang of the Centre for Tropical Medicine at the University of Oxford and Sisira Siribaddana of the University of Rajarata and the Institute of Research & Development in Sri Lanka write in an essay published Tuesday in PLoS Medicine (6/12). According to a PLoS press release, “The authors conclude: ‘the globalization of clinical trials should not be about running inexpensive trial sites to benefit distant people, but should focus on bringing research to populations who have previously been under-represented in clinical trials, and enabling these same communities the benefits resulting from new drugs, vaccines, and improvements in managing health'” (6/12).

HIV Markets In Rich, Poor Countries Are Two Distinct Markets

HIV drugs have not only “transformed a fatal disease into a chronic one,” but “[t]hey have also made HIV a big business,” this Economist editorial states. The editorial examines the market for HIV drugs, writing, “The market is as unusual as it is large, both buoyed by government support and worryingly dependent on it. The past decade has brought fancier medicine in rich countries and copious aid for poor ones. But the war is far from won.” The editorial writes, “In total, public and private investment has yielded more than two dozen HIV drugs,” adding, “Sales of antiretroviral drugs in America and the five biggest European markets reached $13.3 billion in 2011, according to Datamonitor, a research outfit.”

WHO To Continue Discussion On R&D Reform Focusing On Health Needs In Developing Countries

“Proposals for new mechanisms to improve the funding and coordination of health research for the developing world, potentially including a binding international convention, will be formally discussed over the next year, the World Health Assembly concluded last week (21–26 May) in Geneva, Switzerland,” SciDev.Net reports, noting, “The WHO’s Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development (CEWG) has spent a year analyzing more than 100 proposals about how to secure new, innovative and sustainable sources of funding, and how to improve the use of existing resources to meet the health research and development (R&D) needs of developing countries.”

Experimental Drug Tested Against Multi-Drug Resistant TB

“Researchers who tested a novel type of antibiotic against multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis [MDR-TB] are reporting that nearly half of patients who got the new drug cleared the bacteria from their lung fluid in two months,” according to a study published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, Reuters reports. Japanese pharmaceutical company Otsuka developed the experimental drug, delamanid, and “also designed and financed the clinical trial, which took place in 17 medical centers across nine countries,” the news service writes (Emery, 6/6).

Gates Foundation Plans To Invest In Biotech Companies To Improve Global Access To Treatments, Vaccines For Infectious Diseases

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation “plans to take equity stakes in up to a dozen biotech companies this year, signaling a shift towards a ‘venture capital’ approach at the world’s biggest philanthropic organization” and “mark[ing] a further move away from its traditional approach of grant-giving and towards a more business-oriented way to support the development of treatments and vaccines for infectious diseases affecting the world’s poor,” the Financial Times reports. Trevor Mundel, president of the Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program, said the foundation will make a series of investments worth several million dollars each “and not ask for a return but for global access. … We will specify the countries and the diseases,” according to the newspaper. The Financial Times notes that “[t]he move points to growing interest in working directly with companies rather than primarily through co-operating via non-profit ‘product development partnerships’ or intermediaries such as the Medicines for Malaria Venture and the Tuberculosis Alliance” (Jack, 6/26).

Thomson Reuters Study Tracks Current Status Of Research On NTDs

“The Intellectual Property & Science division of Thomson Reuters [on Tuesday] announced the publication of a new study tracking the current status of research on neglected tropical diseases [NTDs],” a Thomson Reuters Corporation press release reports. “The Global Research Report Neglected Tropical Diseases analyzes research output across countries and fields from 1992-2011 and finds a two-fold increase in published literature focused on a group of diseases identified by the World Health Organization as underserved by public health services,” the press release states, adding, “Despite these recent gains, the total research output is still significantly less than that of ‘first world’ diseases” (6/19).