The second annual meeting of the EDCTP, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and NIH co-funded PredictTB project took place in the rural setting of the Robertson winelands in the Western Cape, South Africa, on 25 and 26 March 2019. It was attended by all South African and European partners funded by the EDCTP.
The EDCTP project is coordinated by Prof. Gerhard Walzl at Stellenbosch University and managed by LINQ. PredictTB brings together advanced tuberculosis clinical trials professionals, point-of-care test developers and expert grant management experience in a study that evaluates biomarker-driven tuberculosis treatment shortening strategies. The advanced imaging modality, 18 fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography/computerized tomography (PET/CT), is used to identify patients with low risk for poor treatment outcomes, who are then stratified into standard or shortened treatment arms in a proof-of-concept study. Ultimately, PET/CT would be replaced by easily measurable blood signatures to facilitate stratification into different risk groups.
The PredictTB consortium was thrilled to welcome the new EDCTP project officer Dr Daniel Weibel to the meeting, which was hosted by UCT SATVI, one of the five South African trial sites. The meeting started off with a visit of SATVI’s hospital and labs in Worcester. Following the site visit, the consortium assessed the progress of the project work package by work package and made plans for the upcoming year. LINQ gave guidance on project management, reporting and EDCTP financial regulations and presented on communication and dissemination measures.
The second day was dedicated to capacity building and mentorship, led by Dr Novel Chegou and Dr Fanie Malherbe from Stellenbosch University. PredictTB gives students and early career researchers access to leading South African TB researchers as well as peers in the field. MSc and PhD students from the partner institutions seized the opportunity and presented their research to the consortium.
The next PredictTB meeting organised by the FNIH will bring together all PredictTB partners in Shanghai at the end of May 2019.