Clinical Trial Networks (CTN)

For this edition’s Clinical Trial Network (CTN) member highlight, we’re delighted to share PREPARE’s work in how they are laying the groundwork for a rapid response during an infectious disease outbreak.

GloPID-R Clinical Trial Network (CTN) members and GloPID-R Chair Yazdan took part in a two-day meeting in Brussels in September. This was a joint meeting with the Platform foR European Preparedness Against (Re)emerging Epidemics (PREPARE). This event brought together invited speakers, stakeholders and participants to discuss the barriers and solutions to advance clinical research preparedness for outbreaks.

The meeting consensus was that clinical research must be pre-positioned, pre-approved, and practiced if it is to be ready for a rapid epidemic response. Progress has been made across global regions, but innovation and investment for growth and sustainability of clinical research initiatives is needed.

Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England and Chief Medical Advisor to the UK Government, spoke of the importance of real-time evidence and the value of doing research prior to and during an infectious disease (ID) outbreak. Using the H1N1 pandemic of 2009 as an example, she stated, “Seasonal flu research is not always relevant to pandemic flu and what we needed was an operational scientific response as the virus disproportionately affected the population.”

Clinical research preparedness is exceptionally challenging. Different outbreaks present different challenges and solutions that might work in one country or region might not work for others.

However, delegates agreed that common solutions lie in three key areas: innovation regarding how clinical research is designed and delivered, ensuring a favorable regulatory and policy environment for clinical research, and strong partnerships with multi-stakeholder engagement.

Speaking of his experience on the Ebola outbreak, John Amuasi, Senior Research Fellow at the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research in Tropical Medicine (KCCR) in Kumasi, Ghana, stressed on the imperative of collaborations amongst different disciplines and the trust that needs to be formed between them: “Partnerships can take various forms but it can only take place in an atmosphere of trust with mutual interests in contributions of research to emergency response.”

”We made progress, but there is much room for improvement,” said. Prof. Herman Goossens, Coordinator of PREPARE, “We have a moral obligation to learn lessons from past outbreaks and ensure that essential preparedness capabilities are in place.”

“We are very excited about this event, that will be attended by some of the world’s eminent scientists and policy makers to present, discuss and debate the pressing issues surrounding clinical trials”, underlines Prof. Yazdan Yazdanpanah, GloPID-R Chair. “Clinical research must be fast, flexible and integrated with the front-line response. Our goal is to connect anyone involved in outbreak preparedness: clinicians, researchers, anthropologists, patient groups, regulators, public health, administrators, funders, and ethics advisory groups”.

A key outcome of this meeting was strengthening of partnerships across existing clinical research networks resulting in plans for a joint scientific symposium in Dakar in March 2019.

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Outbreak response is a core part of the Platform for European Preparedness Against (Re-)emerging Epidemics’ (PREPARE) mission. PREPARE is an EU funded network for harmonized large-scale clinical research on infectious diseases (ID), prepared to rapidly respond to any severe ID outbreak, providing evidence for clinical management of patients and for informing public health responses.

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The GloPID-R Secretariat is a project which receives funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101094188.