On March 24, World Tuberculosis Day, the Lancet published a series of papers on the need to combat drug-resistant tuberculosis. Cases of drug-resistant TB are on the rise, posing a growing threat to the health of populations in all parts of the world.
The series consists of six papers written by international experts in the tuberculosis field, including Professor Alimuddin Zumla, Director of the Centre for Infectious Diseases at the University College London Medical School and Dr. Marco Schito at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Some papers focus on TB diagnostics, highlighting advances such as the Xpert MTB/RIF test as well as the dire need for new affordable and effective diagnostics that can detect drug-resistant strains of the disease. One paper focuses on the more technical aspects of the disease and identifies the need for additional funding to research biomarkers for drug-resistant TB. Yet another paper discusses the importance of integrated health service and control efforts, as countries are facing a high burden of TB as well as non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and cancer. Finally, the last two papers discuss the importance of community engagement in research and the need for visionary political leadership to advance global efforts to control TB.
Taken together, this series not only warns of the danger of the TB, but of the danger of inaction. If we are to make progress in the global fight against TB, we must take some of the recommendations for research and control efforts laid out in these papers. It will take concerted action from political leaders, health policy makers, funders and researchers to stem the growing threat of drug resistant TB.
-Morgan McCloskey, global health intern
Nearly 11% of the world’s population does not have access to clean drinking water. This represents a tremendous burden on global health, as almost 2 million children die from water-borne illnesses each year. Improvements in sanitation and the availability of clean water are essential to improve health around the world.
America has been a leader in clean water legislation and water-borne disease research. The late Paul G. Rogers, Research!America’s former chair, was a key leader in the passage of environmental legislation, including the Safe Drinking Water Act, during his tenure in Congress. Today, American investment in research is providing new therapies and prevention strategies for water-borne illnesses like schistosomiasis and Guinea worm disease, both neglected tropical diseases. Learn more about neglected tropical diseases here.
Here are some interesting facts for World Water Day 2013:
- Did you know that agriculture accounts for roughly 80%of the world’s water consumption?
- For every $1 invested in water and sanitation, an average of $4 is returned in increased productivity. (Source: WHO, Geneva, 2012: page 4)
- Every year, around 60 million children in the developing world are born into households without access to sanitation. (UN Water)
- 443 million school days are lost each year due to water-related diseases.
Statement from Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley on Bipartisan Action Spotlighting NIH Funding
Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley Applauds Bipartisan Action Spotlighting NIH Funding
March 22, 2013
Research!America commends Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) for their vision, their leadership and their commitment to bipartisanship as evidenced by their joint amendment calling for robust investment in medical research. We urge all senators to cosponsor and vote for this significant amendment. The National Institutes of Health funds noncommercial research at universities and other institutions across our nation, research that catalyzes private sector development of new preventative measures, diagnostics, treatments and cures for disabling and deadly diseases. This chain reaction lies behind the myriad medical advances we rely on today and is the path to the continued medical progress we need to overcome Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and other insidious health threats. That these senators came together in support of increased funding for the NIH signals their commitment to saving lives and powering our economy. We hope it will also spur bipartisan action to reverse sequestration, which, if allowed to stand, all but ensures the decline in our nation’s medical research pipeline.
Scientists at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, a Research!America member, have successfully treated a handful of leukemia patients with cutting-edge immune cell therapy. This therapy, similar to previous trials at the University of Pennsylvania and the National Cancer Institute, modifies the patient’s immune cells so that they recognize and kill the cancer cells. This experimental therapy provides a new avenue of treatment for patients who have undergone all of the traditional treatments like chemotherapy without achieving remission of the cancer. Read more about this exciting breakthrough in this New York Times article.
The study’s senior author, Michael Sadelain, MD, PhD, expressed his excitement over the results.
“We’re creating living drugs,” Sadelain said in the article. “It’s an exciting story that’s just beginning.”
This study, like so many other major breakthroughs in medicine, was made possible by funding from NCI. This particular immunotherapy has been in development and testing for more than a decade. Articles describing the foundational research for this month’s breakthrough cite financial support from the National Institutes of Health (Brentjens et al, Nature Medicine, March 2003) and the basic scientific principles used to safely modify human immune cells had to be well established before the 2003 experiments could begin. Investments in basic research are necessary to drive medical progress. It is hard to argue with the value of those investments when you read the stories of the patients whose lives were saved by this treatment.
The United Nations Foundation is an unwavering supporter of global health, from prevention of malaria deaths to polio eradication (in partnership with Research!America, the Global Health Council and others the UN Foundation held a briefing about the importance of the polio vaccine in 2011). With support from Johnson & Johnson and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, their latest initiative is the Global Mom Relay, an innovative campaign to raise money and awareness in support of women and children’s health around the globe. Until May 8, there will be a daily story about motherhood on the Huffington Post from a variety of global authors. Each time a relay post is shared via Facebook, Twitter or email, Johnson & Johnson (a Research!America member) and the Gates Foundation (a long-time Research!America supporter) will donate $5 to one of four UN Foundation initiatives helping women and children around the globe: Girl Up, the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action and the Shot@Life campaign.
Please visit www.unfoundation.org/globalmomrelay/ to learn more and share today’s post!
Research!America and its international partners, Research Australia, Research Canada and Research!Sweden, have signed a letter of agreement, capitalizing on a long-standing partnership among these research advocacy organizations. Over the past decade, Research!America, Research Australia and Research Canada have met informally on several occasions and presented and attended each organization’s annual meetings and conferences. Recently, Research!Sweden joined this alliance, bringing its unique programs, approaches and strategies to this international group.
The agreement is intended to foster greater collaboration among the four organizations in an effort to leverage expertise, advancements and approaches in health research advocacy, as well as facilitate the sharing of best practices in biomedical and health research advocacy, governance and operational policies and procedures. The agreement will promote enhanced communications among the four organizations and open the door to explore opportunities to collaborate internationally on health research advocacy ventures. The two-year agreement reflects the efforts of all four organizations to make biomedical and health research higher priorities in their respective countries. You can read the full letter of agreement here on Research!America’s website.
A few weeks ago, we wrote about a Mississippi toddler who was “functionally cured” of HIV. Now, there is one more reason to celebrate: French researchers identified 14 adults who have been functionally cured of HIV as well. The adults received antiviral treatment within a few months of infection, but all stopped treatment at some point for a variety of reasons. Despite discontinued treatment, researchers found that these adults had extremely low levels of HIV and that their immune systems were controlling the infection without drugs. Although further research is necessary, scientists hope that other adults may be able to cease antiviral treatment and live healthily without drugs. This story is another crucial step in the global fight against HIV/AIDS and represents the importance of continued research investments to discover innovative cures for HIV.
—Morgan McCloskey, global health intern