PredictTB

Current treatments for TB use a one-size-fits-all approach and usually lasts for at least six months. Shortening the standard treatment of TB could help reduce drug resistance and disease burden in developing countries.

Previous attempts to shorten treatment duration, usually to four months, have been unsuccessful when compared with six-month treatments. While six-month courses cure 95% of patients, shorter courses only cure 80-85%. If scientists were able to identify the patients who only require four-month therapy before starting treatment, treatment duration could be reduced in most patients, even with present drugs.

PredictTB will enrol and follow-up 620 patients with drug-sensitive pulmonary TB in a clinical trial to validate candidate biomarkers as well as identify and evaluate new, improved criteria that can identify patients who can be cured with shorter treatment.

Title

Using Biomarkers to Predict TB Treatment Duration

Funder(s)

EDCTP, BMGF, NIH, Grand Challenges China, ICIDR, RePORT South Africa

Duration

1 February 2017 – 31 January 2022 (60 Months)

Total Funding

20 million EUR

Coordinator

Prof. Gerhard Walzl, Stellenbosch University, South Africa (EDCTP) and Dr Clifton Barry, III, PhD, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, US (BMGF & NIH)

Partners

17 partners from Africa, Europe, North America, and China.

How LINQ Supports PredictTB

  • . Project Management 
  • . Dissemination & Communication
  • . Capacity Building

Coordinating project partners across three continents

PredictTB is a large-scale clinical study that receives both international and national as well as public and private funding from Europe, South Africa, China, and the US. LINQ is managing the European funding by the EDCTP, headed by our long-time collaborator Prof. Gerhard Walzl, and leads the Project Management Work Package.

Working across funders adds a layer of complexity to LINQ’s work as we help coordinate funders on three continents and navigate their very varied rules and requirements. One way in which LINQ has ensured efficient work across all partner institutions is by supporting the process of setting up a consortium-wide research collaboration agreement, together with the FNIH, our US American counterpart. This allows all scientists working in this project to safely exchange materials and information.

PredictTB

Navigating through the COVID-19 outbreak

When everything was set up properly and the project was running smoothly, the COVID-19 crisis in 2020 severely affected the clinical studies in both South Africa and China, as recruitment was halted for several months. PredictTB was able to continue treatment of enrolled patients during the lockdown while adhering to the highest safety standards and government regulations. LINQ has played a pivotal role in helping the consortium navigate through the challenges imposed by the pandemic by initiating a structured dialogue between the different South African clinical sites to assess individual requirements for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and by supporting the integration of COVID-19 testing for PredictTB patients. 

Furthermore, when the annual in-person meeting needed to be cancelled on short notice, LINQ worked together with the FNIH to swiftly arrange a successful virtual meeting.

COVID-19 outbreak

Empowering the next generation of TB experts

Capacity building work is a core element of PredictTB. The two pillars of this work are a) a mentoring programme where members of the consortium have formed mentor-mentee pairs to aid career development and b) activities that aim to strengthen early-career researchers (MSc and PhD students or PostDocs) and help them build on the expertise of the consortium.

LINQ organises capacity building and mentor-mentee sessions at the annual meetings together with the leaders of the respective Work Package, Novel Chegou and Fanie Malherbe from Stellenbosch University. In addition, we conducted trainings on project and financial management for the project’s administrative staff at the beginning of the project and are making plans to organise virtual capacity building and training sessions on grant writing and funding opportunities for early-career researchers.

PredictTB
“PredictTB is a highly complex initiative involving several different funders and a large number of participants all around the globe. Navigating this multi-faceted environment and integrating numerous stakeholders in an efficient way is a challenge that LINQ has mastered expertly.” Prof Gerhard Walzl,
Stellenbosch University
Prof Gerhard Walzl,  Stellenbosch University