NIAID Now | December 23, 2019
As we prepare to plunge into a new decade and leave the teen years behind us, NIAID Now looks back at some notable scientific achievements of 2019. Diseases rare and common were addressed by NIAID scientists and grantees.
- Early results from a gene therapy clinical trial gave hope that one the rarest—X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency or X-SCID—may become a curable condition.
- Although treatable, tuberculosis (TB) remains all too common and is the world’s leading cause of death from a single infectious agent. In 2019, NIAID established three IMPAc-TB centers (Immune Mechanisms of Protection Against Mycobacterium tuberculosis). Researchers in the IMPAc-TB centers aim to develop a comprehensive understanding of the immune responses needed to prevent infection with TB-causing bacteria. This information will be used to develop vaccine candidates.
- Results from PopART, a large NIH-sponsored clinical trial were announced in March. The study found that new HIV infections declined by 30 percent in communities in South Africa and Zambia where health workers conducted house-to-house voluntary HIV testing, referred people who tested positive to begin HIV treatment and offered other HIV prevention methods to people who tested negative.
- Efforts to end the HIV epidemic in the United States were bolstered with grants to 23 institutions across the nation that will collaborate with community partners to develop locally relevant plans for diagnosing, treating and preventing HIV in areas with high rates of new HIV cases.
- Final results of PALM, a clinical trial of four investigational Ebola therapies conducted in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, were published in November. The trial, which was stopped early in August, found that two of the therapies significantly reduced mortality rates from Ebola virus disease in those who received them. Said NIAID Director Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, “Response teams have faced unprecedented challenges in ongoing efforts to save lives and control the outbreak of Ebola in a highly insecure region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Although effective treatments alone will not end this outbreak, the PALM study findings identify the first efficacious treatments for Ebola virus disease and therefore mark a significant step forward in improving care for Ebola patients.”
Read more about these and five other notable advances in the Selected NIAID Science News Highlights of 2019.