AE-TBC: Success story with promising results

The African European Tuberculosis Consortium (AE-TBC) was an international research project including seven African and five European institutions that ran from July 2010 until December 2013. It was funded by the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) in response to a call for ‘Support of clinical trials, capacity building and networking in new and improved diagnostics for tuberculosis’.

The main objectives of the project were to develop a rapid test for active TB based on host biomarkers and to create a bio-bank for future research.

RESULTS AND OUTCOME

Several new host markers, produced after stimulation with novel diagnostic antigens in whole blood cultures, were measured by Luminex during the project and showed promise. Serum biosignatures performed very encouraging and will be developed further in ongoing studies. A lateral flow test device, based on the Upconverting phosphor-imaging technology (UCP) was developed for IP-10 and MIP-1b and is feasible for field settings. Project findings were patented and resulted in several publications. Most importantly, the project’s results were published in an article in Thorax, an international peer-reviewed journal for health professionals in respiratory medicine, on May 4, 2016, entitled “Diagnostic performance of a seven-marker serum protein biosignature for the diagnosis of active TB disease in African primary healthcare clinic attendees with signs and symptoms suggestive of TB”.

The project also provided the opportunity to perform significant capacity development through infrastructure upgrading at African sites and providing training opportunities for African partners. This included formal degree courses (PhD, MSc), short courses in clinical trial-related activities, trainings in laboratory procedures and mentorship programs for key personnel participating in the clinical trial. Importantly, the University of Namibia, from Southern Africa, joined this consortium and has developed new research and clinical trial capacity through this project.

MOVING FORWARD!

Building on the success of the AE-TBC project, a new EDCTP-funded initiative was started in April 2016. Former AE-TBC members have joined again in this new project, entitled ScreenTB, to validate the diagnostic test developed in AE-TBC and to incorporate it in a device that works with finger-prick blood.

ScreenTB’s vision is to make screening for active tuberculosis (TB) in resource-limited settings easier and safer, thus significantly improving those patients’ chances to obtain proper and quick treatment.

For more information on the ScreenTB project, please visit our website at: www.screen-tb.eu