“Executive Director of UNAIDS Michel Sidibe Wednesday called for the production of anti-retroviral drugs [ARVs] in Africa to make the life-saving medicines against AIDS accessible to patients and boost the medicines manufacturing sector on the continent,” PANA/AfriqueJet reports. Speaking at the 16th West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) Summit in Lome, Togo, “Sidibe said it was time for the continent to negotiate strong partnerships with emerging countries, including India and Brazil, to support the local production of ARVs in Africa,” the news service writes, adding, “According to [Sidibe], Africa accounts for only one percent of the medicine manufacturing sector that is expected to generate as much as $1 trillion by 2015” (6/7).
Pacific Standard magazine examines efforts by researchers around the globe to biologically modify bugs to fight human diseases, such as dengue fever. “Biologically altering bugs isn’t entirely new; it’s been done for nearly half a century to protect crops. … It’s only recently, however, that scientists have begun experimenting with using this technology to combat human diseases,” the magazine writes, adding, “If they succeed, they could create an entirely new way of stopping not only dengue but other insect-borne scourges, such as yellow fever, West Nile virus, and malaria. And stopping these diseases has never been more urgent.”
In this post in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters” blog, Carel IJsselmuiden, executive director of the Council on Health for Development Group, writes that “Africa must turn its health research into treatments for African people,” noting, “Despite large investments being made by donors in health products and delivery of health services, a large percentage of Africans still have limited access to sufficient and quality healthcare — especially in rural areas.” He notes that a “recent report, Investing in health for Africa — released by the World Health Organisation (WHO), World Bank and USAID to name a few of the partners — says average additional spending in sub-Saharan Africa of $21 to $36 could in 2015 alone save more than three million lives, 90 percent of which would be women and children.”
Reuters reports on efforts to develop a vaccine for dengue fever, writing that “victory over … the intensely painful ‘breakbone fever’ … may be in sight.” Paris-based firm Sanofi “hopes for positive results in September from a key trial among children in Thailand that would set it on course to market a shot in 2015, which would prevent an estimated 100 million cases of dengue infection each year,” the news service writes, noting, “Of 20,000 annual deaths, many are of children.” According to Reuters, “Results from that clinical study, in what is known as the Phase IIb of the international standard three-stage process of assessment, are expected in the third quarter” and “will also be presented for scientific scrutiny at the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Atlanta in November.”
Noting that the journal Science last week published the second of two controversial bird flu research papers, in which a team led by Ron Fouchier of the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam created a mutated strain of the virus that spreads easily among ferrets, a Washington Post editorial writes that “this is not the end of the story. Rather, it marks the beginning of an important chapter for both science and security.” The editorial continues, “The United States and other nations need a more sophisticated process for vetting research for possible security threats without discouraging or impairing scientists,” adding, “This is more difficult than it sounds.”
The U.S. journal Science on Thursday published the results of a controversial study in which researchers at the Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands “identified five mutations apparently necessary to make the [H5N1] bird flu virus spread easily among ferrets, which catch the same flus that humans do,” the New York Times reports (McNeil, 6/21). “The publication of [the] research had been delayed by several months after the U.S. government’s National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) warned that the information should be censored to avoid being misused, for example by terrorists,” the Guardian writes, noting, “Last month, Yoshihiro Kawaoka at the University of Wisconsin-Madison published details of another form of the bird flu virus that can pass between people, which was created by merging a mutated strain with the swine flu virus that sparked a human pandemic in 2009” (Jha, 6/21).
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.
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.”
“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).
“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).