European partnership helps accelerate innovation against tuberculosis

This year's World TB Day theme, "On the move against tuberculosis: Innovate to accelerate action," addresses a critical aspect of the core business and values of the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership, the group announced March 24.

The EDCTP's program aims to reduce poverty in sub-Saharan Africa by accelerating development of clinical interventions against tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria.

The partnership engages with researchers, policymakers, product developers and like-minded organizations to speed up the development of new or improved prevention and treatment interventions against tuberculosis malaria and HIV/AIDS.

Today EDCTP joins the world by expressing its continued commitment in the fight against tuberculosis in line with this year's theme.

The World Health Organization estimates that one third of the world population is infected by the bacterium that causes TB, and that the majority of new cases occur in developing countries, especially in South-East Asia and in sub-Saharan Africa.

Although there is evidence that the epidemic in Africa has been slowing in the recent years and appears to have stabilized or begun to fall, the highest number of deaths and the mortality per capita are still seen in the African continent.

Additionally, there is a major concern of the role of HIV/AIDS, which fuels the TB epidemic in Africa. HIV is the single most important factor contributing to the increase in incidence of TB since 1990.

In some areas, control efforts are complicated by the emerging major threat of drug-resistant TB including multidrug-resistant and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis.

As expressed in previous World TB Days the world will never eliminate TB without new and more effective drugs, diagnostics and vaccines. The world urgently needs simpler and faster drug regimens that treat all forms of TB; rapid and more accurate diagnostic tools that detect TB; and a vaccine or vaccines that will be effective in preventing TB in people of all ages irrespective of immune status.

EDCTP underlines the urgency of the above issues and is exploring synergy and complementarities with other partners active in the field of TB prevention and treatment through funding of TB activities within EDCTP scope.

To date EDCTP has committed nearly $52 million to fund drug trials.

Approximately $49 million has been committed toward site preparedness and capacity building for TB vaccine trials including a proof of concept Phase II-B trial to evaluate the protective efficacy of a booster MVA85A vaccine administered to healthy HIV-infected adults in Senegal, South Africa and Gambia.

In July 2008, Oxford University licensed MVA85A exclusively to Emergent BioSolutions Inc. for commercialization in the developed world, with the agreement that the Aeras Global TB Vaccine Foundation receives rights to distribute the vaccine in the developing world at a reduced cost.