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Research and Development
HIV/TB Patients in Eastern Europe at higher risk of death than in Western Europe

HIV/TB Patients in Eastern Europe at higher risk of death than in Western Europe

The Lancet HIV Journal published a recent research study conducted by Daria Podlekareva and her colleagues that shows an alarming situation for people living with HIV and diagnosed with tuberculosis in Eastern Europe. They have a risk of death nearly four-times higher than patients from Western Europe and Latin America.   As mentioned in the study the reasons for the high mortality rate in Eastern Europe are complex and multifactorial. However, an urgent action is needed to improve tuberculosis care for patients living with HIV in this region. For full text and more details, please click here: Tuberculosis-related mortality in people living with HIV in Europe and Latin America: an international cohort study This blog is the product of an activity that has received funding under an operating grant from the European Union’s Health Programme (2014-2020). The content of this blog represents the views of the author only and is his/her sole responsibility; it cannot be considered to reflect the views of the European Commission and/or the Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency or any other body of the European Union. The European Commission and the Agency do not accept any responsibility for use that may be made of the information More…

Ukraine's TB doctors meet to discuss new MDR-TB treatment schemes

Ukraine’s TB doctors meet to discuss new MDR-TB treatment schemes

Clinical trials of a new scheme for treating patients with drug-sensitive and chemo-resistant tuberculosis: next steps On 1-3 July 2015, the working meetings took place with phthsiologists (TB doctors) from Kyiv, Kyiv Oblast and Chernigiv Oblast where new steps were discussed in Ukraine’s participation in clinical trials of a new scheme for treating patients with drug-resistant and chemoresistant TB. TBEC earlier reported that Ukraine has started clinical trials of Pretomanid. The clinical trials were initiated by an international organisation – the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development (TB Alliance). In Ukraine, clinical trials are being conducted by F.G. Yanovsky National Phthisiology and Pulmonology Institute of the National Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine with informational support provided by “Ukrainians Against TB” Public Movement” Foundation. As part of the project’s implementation, working meetings had been arranged in Kyiv, Kyiv Oblast and Chernigiv Oblast. The meetings were held: On 1 July – with Kyiv phthisiologists – at F.G. Yanovsky National Phthisiology and Pulmonology Institute of the National Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine; On 2 July – with Kyiv Oblast phthisiologists – at Kyiv Oblast Tuberculosis Hospital; On 3 July – with Chernigiv Oblast phthisiologists – at Chernigiv Oblast Tuberculosis Hospital. Overall, more More…

Ukraine has started clinical trials of Pretomanid

Ukraine has started clinical trials of Pretomanid

This was reported on May 28, 2015 during a round table at UKRINFORM agency in Kiev “New treatment regimens for Drug-Resistant TB, based on the newest available drugs” organised by Public Movement “Ukrainians against TB” and the Yanovsky National TB Institute, by head of the TB Institute Department of Chemo-resistant TB Svetlana Cherenko. “Since 2006, Ukraine has shown a decline in TB incidence, but it is very slow. The WHO declared a new strategy for TB control which aims to reduce the number of deaths from the disease by 95% by 2035, but at such a low scale of reducing the incidence in Ukraine, it will at best be able to overcome the disease in 2090. Therefore, it is necessary to accelerate the rates of reducing morbidity and activate all measures against tuberculosis ” – said S. Cherenko. Every year 4000 people die from TB in Ukraine, many of them are patients with MDR-TB. According to WHO, to date the effectiveness of treatment of MDR-TB in the world cohort of patients was 46% in terms of “effective treatment”, said S.Cherenko. In Ukraine, the treatment success rate is only 34%. One reason for the low efficiency of treatment of MDR-TB patients More…

European Parliament approve EU Budget and R&D Programme for 2014-2020

European Parliament approve EU Budget and R&D Programme for 2014-2020

After months of ongoing negotiations, the European Parliament formally approved two central pieces of legislation for the European Union this week. Deals were reached both on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF – or the EU Budget) and for Horizon 2020 (the EU’s programme for research and innovation). The MFF for 2014-2020 totals about €960 billion, which, in real terms, is €34 billion less than compared to the previous financial period (2007-2013). Of particular concern for us is the news that ‘Heading 4’ – this is the category under which development spending falls – has experienced an overall cut of 16% compared to the European Commission’s initial proposal. The EU instrument for development assistance – the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI) was reduced to €17.36 billion. Despite these overall cuts for 2014-2020, for the 2014 budget the European Parliament did approve an increase for the DCI. Moreover, they made sure that at least 20% of appropriations of the DCI should be used for basic social services and that there must be the creation of a separate budget line for Human Development. This will mention sexual and reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other poverty related diseases. The Horizon 2020 programme which finances More…

EU urged to maintain health aid to help combat TB

EU urged to maintain health aid to help combat TB

Global health officials have recently urged the EU and others donors to continue supporting the fight against TB and other poverty-related diseases through development aid. Twelve years on from the Abuja Declaration African nations have made significant inroads in combating tuberculosis (TB) and the HIV virus, according to a new report by the United Nations’ AIDS agency and the African Union. However, despite this progress there is more that can and must be done. In light of the report, officials have warned that a decline in spending could halt or even reverse successes to date. Mark Dybul, head of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, has said that today we have the ability to completely control the three diseases as public health threats. However, this requires a commitment from the EU and d0nors governments, not in two or three years but now. The need for commitment is particularly acute given the increase in multidrug-resistant (MDR) strains of TB, something that is a particularly worry throughout the world including a significant issue in Europe. Margaret Chan, WHO Director General, reiterated Dybul’s comment on the issue when saying: we are treading water at a time when we desperately need More…

TBVI’s annual report features TBEC advocate Jon Stillo

TBVI’s annual report features TBEC advocate Jon Stillo

The Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative (TBVI) has launched their annual report reviewing 2012 and outlining their strategy over the coming years to develop new globally accessible and affordable TB vaccines. Their report also includes an interview with Jonathan Stillo, a medical anthropologist living in Romania who also sits on TBEC’s steering committee. Here is an excerpt from Jon’s interview: Romania, where Jonathan Stillo is carrying out his research project, has a high rate of tuberculosis and one of the worst drug-resistant TB cure rates in the entire world. With his stories, Stillo tries to highlight how badly TB patients in Romania are treated. Apart from the insufficient medical treatment, there are numerous side issues. “It’s not a problem that cannot be solved,” says the researcher. “I have spoken with a lot of doctors who feel a huge amount of guilt. They want to treat their patients, but they lack rapid diagnosis and especially the medications to fight drug-resistant TB. But I have American optimism, I tell their stories, I try and attract attention. I try to be a catalyst. TB is a serious public health threat for the entire region; unfortunately, most Romanian decision-makers do not understand the threat.” Jon also More…

Tuberculosis: An injection of hope

Tuberculosis: An injection of hope

In light of World TB Day 24th March 2013, a new documentary, ‘Tuberculosis: An injection of hope’, is to air on Euronews throughout the week. The interesting and informative film sheds light on the development of new TB vaccines that are crucial if we are to eradicate the disease within our lifetime. Specifically the film focuses on the development of vaccine candidate MTBVAC01 that has been developed by the University of Zaragoza. We highly recommend this short film and if you are unable to catch it on Euronews you can find out more about it here.

European Parliament adopts Horizon 2020 package with clear language on Global Health R&D

European Parliament adopts Horizon 2020 package with clear language on Global Health R&D

On November 28th, the European Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee adopted its negotiating mandate on the Horizon 2020 Package (the proposed EU Research and Innovation Programme for the years 2014-2020). The programme brings together all existing Union research and innovation funding, which is currently estimated at €87 billion. Building on the Commission’s original proposal, committee members voted to strengthen language on Poverty-Related and Neglected Diseases (PRNDs). Most notably, the committee recommended the inclusion of PRNDs and research and development capacity to address this considerable disease burden as an integral part of the Societal Challenge, “Health, Demographic Change and Wellbeing”. The committee’s decision received broad support across all political groups and will provide the basis for subsequent negotiations between the Parliament and the Council of the European Union on the final policy framework for Horizon 2020. Next steps: Discussions continue between the European Parliament and the European Council (Member States) with a view to agreeing a final package for Horizon 2020 and of course for the Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF). In the European Parliament the next step is the Plenary vote, but the date for this has not yet been set and depends on how informal negotiations advance.

NGOs call for a more effective focus on needs-driven health R&D

NGOs call for a more effective focus on needs-driven health R&D

A coalition of non-governmental organisations have signed an open letter to WHO Member States calling for them to address the weaknesses in the current innovation system by ensuring need-driven research and development (R&D) and access to the fruits of R&D. The letter makes note of the fact that, even after years of debate and discussion, ‘medical technologies, such as medicines, diagnostics and vaccines too often remain unaffordable, unavailable and unsuitable for the people who need them’.  The failure in investing in effective and meaningful R&D innovation over the past decade has undoubtedly cost lives and allowed the problem of TB, and, in particular, drug-resistant strains to take hold. In the past decade there have been initiatives attempting to address the problem, but the letter suggests that these have been fragmented and unsuitable without significantly strengthened public leadership. For progress to be made the letter states: Mechanisms are needed to establish needs and priorities, monitor R&D flow, coordinate R&d efforts, secure sustainable financing, promote new incentives and manage research outputs in a way that ensures both innovation and access. Ultimately, the NGOs involved assert that Member States must agree on a process that addresses the fundamental problems and they must do so in a manner More…

TB vaccine one step closer as a result of effective EU research and development

TB vaccine one step closer as a result of effective EU research and development

European scientists are one step closer to delivering a new, safe and more effective vaccine against tuberculosis developed through EU research funding, according to a press release from the European Commission published yesterday.  The live vaccine, MTBCAC, is the  first to be based on Mycobacterium tuberculosis; a strongly weakened version of the bacterium that causes TB. It should stimulate the human immune system to recognise and eventually prevent TB infection. The TuBerculosis Vaccine Initiative (TBVI), who took part in the pre-clinical development of the vaccine, explain the trial as a big win for scientists all over Europe as the first candidate of its kind ever to be tested in humans. Significantly, the press release symbolises how the vaccine pipeline for TB is better then it ever has been. Along with MTBVAC, MVA85A – the most advanced TB vaccine – is currently in phase 2b trials with results due later this year.  Both of these, whether or not they go any further in the clinical trial stage, undoubtedly serve to advance TB vaccine research even further. If MTBVAC does manage to pass tests and shows good immune responses, it will be able to move to the next phase of evaluation that More…

EU must do more in poverty-related and neglected disease research and development

EU must do more in poverty-related and neglected disease research and development

The critical role played by the EU in research and development (R&D) of poverty-related and neglected diseases has been highlighted in an engaging report and accompanying video, released last week. Significant strides made over the past few decades in the developing world are recognised as a direct result of the EU’s commitment to both world leading research and the development of new drugs. As a result of this commitment, in the past few decades the world has witnessed a 25% reduction in levels of malaria, polio is close to being eradicated and new centres of expertise have emerged all over Latin America, Africa and Asia. Significantly, the video makes note of the fact that in 2010 malaria deaths fell by 335,000. This dramatic decrease can, at least in part, be attributed to the development of Coartem Dispersible, a malaria drug specifically made for children and developed through a  partnership of EU member states and pharmaceutical companies. Continued commitment from the EU and associated parties is vital if we are to see such progress with regards to other PRNDs, such as TB. Successes like that of Coartem Disperisble are critical. However, due to the continuation of the global economic crisis, the More…

Call to EU Leadership on Global Health Research and Development

Call to EU Leadership on Global Health Research and Development

Twenty-three NGOs, including members of the TB Europe Coalition, have come together to call upon the leadership of the EU to support recent WHO recommendations for a clear and effective roadmap towards an international funding commitment for poverty-related and neglected disease (PRND) research and development (R&D). By joining forces with existing national and international initiatives as well as prioritising global health R&D, it is proposed there will be greater coordination that will result in the EU helping to address the highly fragmented landscape that currently exists in health research: “We believe that the EU could become a major player by joining forces with existing national and international initiatives, coordinating and complementing these regional and national efforts in order to ensure that global health products are delivered to patients in a fast and efficient manner.” The EU ultimately has the chance to take a leading position in delivering more effective, fair and efficient treatment with regards to poverty-related and neglected diseases, such as TB. The full document can be downloaded here.

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