Clinical Trial Networks (CTN)
For this edition’s Clinical Trial Network (CTN) member highlight, we’re happy to share how PANDORA plays a vital role in sub-Saharan Africa’s capacity to respond to outbreaks.
Pan-African Network for Rapid Research, Response and Preparedness for Infectious Diseases Epidemics (PANDORA-ID-NET) is a large consortium with 22 different sites across Europe and Africa working together for common purposes of improving capacity development and research capability during inter-epidemic periods to facilitate preparedness for when infectious disease epidemics occur.
Professor Sir Alimuddin Zumla, University College London, UK; Prof Giuseppe Ippolito, National Institute for Infectious Diseases Lazzaro Spallanzani, Italy and Prof Francine Ntoumi, Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale (FRCM), Republic of Congo (RoC) founded the project.
The PANDORA consortium’s mission is to develop and strengthen effective outbreak response capacities across all geographical regions in sub-Saharan Africa in partnership with national governments and other international stakeholders. It is funded through a 10 million Euro grant from the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP).
PANDORA has a focus on One Health. Often in zoonotic diseases the importance of the animal contribution is neglected and our work plans to address this. For example, The Royal Veterinary College, University of London, UK in collaboration with Njala University, Sierra Leone are currently setting up a project using bio-banked sera from both animals and humans to test assays for Lassa fever virus.
The consortium has an academic ethicist to address the social science aspects and to support social scientists, including projects looking at virus-specific diagnostics of adult encephalitis, a recent outbreak of Chikungunya in the Republic of Congo and monkeypox in Nigeria, as well as other infectious diseases.
PANDORA also has close contacts with three Networks of Excellence (NoEs), funded also by the EDCTP. The aim of these networks is to bring together all interested parties in infectious diseases clinical research and to become an effective platform for cooperation involving health policy makers and national authorities.
- Central Africa Clinical Research Network (CANTAM2) lead by Prof Ntoumi, with a focus on RoC, Cameroon and Gabon. Laboratory capacity development ranging from supporting accreditation to the set-up of a containment level 3 laboratory at the site at FRCM.
- The Eastern Africa Consortium for Clinical Research (EACCR2) lead by Prof Pontiano Kaleebu, Uganda National Health Research Organisation, with the aim of strengthening facilities to conduct clinical trials on neglected, emerging and re-emerging disease in this region.
- Trials of Excellence in Southern Africa (TESA2) lead by Dr Eusebio Macete, Manhiça Health Research Centre (CISM), Mozambique with aims of building capacity and strengthening less established institutions including conducting clinical trials in the fields of HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria.
PANDORA and the NoEs are developing mentorship programs for African scientists and using the expertise of the partners across the consortia to develop training workshops. Training workshops planned for 2019 include: MinION training for DNA and RNA sequencing, TB diagnostics and validation of screening assays. European institutions also host students for laboratory training.
PANDORA also engages with policy makers and one of its partners is Chatham House, The Royal Institute of International Affairs, London, UK. PANDORA aims to help develop healthcare protocols and identify priority areas within infectious diseases that are in line with local and national government and supported by institutions such as the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)and Africa CDC.
CTN welcomes PANDORA into the network and looks forward to finding synergies and areas of further partnership.
Clinical Trial Networks